Background: Nurses developing a poster presentation for the first time who look for guidance in the literature will find many articles offering recommendations on format and style, but these are based on opinion rather than evidence.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify the attributes of a poster that improved the chance that nursing conference attendees would read it.
Methods: A mixed-methods descriptive study employing survey methodology was used to assess the perceptions of nurses attending poster sessions at a two-day nursing conference. The survey consisted of basic demographic questions, 25 items asking respondents to identify and rate the importance of variables that influenced their decision to read a poster, and several open-ended questions. Both a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the responses was performed.
Results: The two major themes that emerged from the qualitative analysis were that poster-viewing decisions were based first on aesthetics and then on relevance. The quantitative analysis identified aesthetic characteristics that were most important to nurse viewers, including overall visual appeal, color, organization, and layout; viewers determined the relevance of a poster primarily by reading its title.
Conclusions: To develop a poster that will attract an audience, nurse researchers should keep in mind the attributes that are important to their peers and colleagues. Conference attendees are more likely to read a poster if it's on a topic that interests them, is pleasing to the eye, and has a title that's easy to read.