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Phil Arnold, Annie Topping, Stephanie Honey
British Journal of Community Nursing, Vol. 9, Iss. 5, 07 May 2004, pp 216 - 224

To date the public health role of district nursing has been less well defined than in other branches of community nursing. A qualitative study examining the public health role of district nurses was undertaken in a West Yorkshire primary care trust. The study explored the range of public health activities currently undertaken by district nurses, the agendas perceived as most conducive to input and the organizational barriers that prevented greater involvement in public health from district nurses. Focus group and individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 21 members of the district nursing team and analysed using thematic content analysis. The findings suggest that district nurses were already undertaking a range of public health and health education activities but much of the work was opportunistic. District nurses perceived themselves as well placed to undertake locally-based health action because of their profile in the local communities together with local intelligence. However, ineffective referral criteria were considered to be the most prohibitive barrier against making a greater contribution to health improvement.

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