Swedish Registered Nurses' incentives to use nursing diagnoses in clinical practice

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Aims and objectives

The purpose of this study was to describe Registered Nurses' incentives to use nursing diagnoses in clinical practice.


The use of nursing diagnoses is scarce in Swedish patient records. However, there are hospital wards were all nurses formulate and use nursing diagnoses in their daily work. This leads to the question of what motivates these nurses who do use nursing diagnoses in clinical practice.


A qualitative descriptive design.


A purposeful sampling of 12 Registered Nurses was used. Qualitative interviews to collect data and a content analysis were performed.


Five categories were identified: identification of the patient as an individual and as a whole, a working tool for facilitating nursing care, increasing awareness within nursing, support from the management and influence on the professional role. The principle findings of this study were: (i) that the Registered Nurses perceived that nursing diagnoses clarified the patient's individual needs and thereby enabled them to decide on more specific nursing interventions, (ii) that nursing diagnoses were found to facilitate communication between colleagues concerning patient care and thus promoted continuity of care and saved time and (iii) that nursing diagnoses were perceived to increase the Registered Nurses' reflective thinking leading to a continuous development of professional knowledge.


The present findings suggest that the incentives to use nursing diagnoses originate from effects generated from performing a deeper analysis of the patient's nursing needs. Further research is needed to test and validate the usability and consequences of using nursing diagnoses in clinical practice.

Relevance to clinical practice

Motivating factors found in this study may be valuable to Registered Nurses for the use and development of nursing diagnoses in clinical care. Moreover, these factors may be of relevance in other countries that are in a similar situation as Sweden concerning application of nursing diagnoses.

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