Genetics and genomics in nursing.
What are the characteristics of genetic nurse adopters and nurse opinion leaders in genetics and genomics?

  • Verity Andrews

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Background. Aspects of genetics/genomics are increasingly being incorporated into medicine. Nurses are crucial in helping transform healthcare through genomic nursing (Loud, 2010). However the integration of genetics/genomics into nursing education has been sporadic (Dodson and Lewallen, 2011). Influencing its uptake into practice may be via nurses who are already utilising genetics/genomics in their practice (adopters) and nurses who may lead the way and encourage others (opinion leaders) to do likewise. Identifying the characteristics of such adopters and opinion leaders within nursing may provide useful information for more wide-scale detection of these individuals to support a strategy for the inclusion of genetics/genomics into nursing practice. Methods. Five change behaviour theories were used to inform the study including the Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Diffusion of Innovations. A mixed methods approach was taken over two phases. In Phase 1 experts in the field of genetics/genomics and nursing were contacted to gain a consensus on four potential genetic indicators of adoption (GIAs), which would identify a nurse who had adopted genetics/genomics. In Phase 2, oncology nurses and practice nurses completed a questionnaire to identify the characteristics and demographic indicators of nurse genetic adopters and opinion leaders. Results. A consensus (>75%) was achieved for all four GIAs to be included as indicators of adoption of genetics/genomics within nursing practice (Phase 1). Individuals identified (in Phase 2) were subcategorised into six different groups, including genetic adopters and opinion leaders. There were 18 identifying features that defined an adopter, with some of the main features being Openness to Experience (p<0.001), seeing the relevance of genetics/genomics to their patient group (p<0.001) and talking to colleagues about genetics/genomics (p<0.001). There were six features that identified an opinion leader, including academic achievement (p=0.007), level of perceived influence over others (p<0.001) and being high on the opinion leadership scale (p<0.001). Two of the biggest barriers to incorporation by nurses were lack of time for adopters and a lack of local study sessions for opinion leaders. Conclusion. It has been identified that nurses can be categorised in terms of their relationship to genetics/genomics, through a number of distinguishing characteristics. It will be important to further identify and clarify these and other characteristics through the development of additional tools. These data can inform approaches to promote a greater integration of genetics/genomics into nursing practice, ultimately improving patient healthcare.
    Date of AwardOct 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMaggie Kirk (Supervisor), Emma Tonkin (Supervisor) & Deborah Lancastle (Supervisor)


    • Medical genetics
    • Genomes
    • Nursing
    • nursing education

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