Swedish student nurses' knowledge of health statutes: a descriptive survey

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The nurse's function, no matter the working area, is guided by ethical approaches, grounded in science and well-tried experiences, and has to be conducted according to national laws, statutes and instructions.


To survey newly graduated Swedish nurses' knowledge about current statutes and laws that govern their healthcare system.


A questionnaire was developed from facts in relevant statutes and laws presented and used in the nursing education programmes. Following a pilot study testing the items, a 20-item questionnaire, with mostly open-ended questions, was distributed to student nurses in the last semester of their nursing education programme before graduation.


One hundred and seventy-eight participants answered the questionnaire (response rate 59%). Only 29% of responses on all questions showed correct knowledge about the different statutes and laws that regulate their work as nurses. The best knowledge was found in the area of documentation (range 35-86%) and in the area of information (range 16-54%) on group scores.


This survey concerning novice nurses' knowledge about statutes and laws showed great deficiencies. It was surprising to find that, on existing demands regarding nurses delegating medical tasks, not a single respondent presented a correct answer. Evidence-based knowledge was difficult to recognize. Nurses will be more conscious of their own limitations and more prepared to meet the reality of practice if there is emphasis on relevant statutes and laws during their education.

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