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The aim of the study is to clarify the concept of supervision by means of concept analysis, in order to evaluate the concept's application to the practise of public health nurses.According to the World Health Organization, a change in strategies for improving public health is necessary. This change demands new strategies. There exists little research concerning intervention strategies in public health. The concept of supervision is well used, but neither well-defined nor well described, either within the nursing discipline or across disciplinary boundaries.The method is a review of literature. Twenty scientific papers covering the years 1996–2001 are analysed, using a concept-analysis methodology.Supervision can be defined as a formal, pedagogical, relational enabling process, related to professional competence. Relationship and dialogue are central aspects. Supervision is based on theory and humanistic values, has a normative, formative and restorative function. The supervisor's competence is of great importance. Supervision has unclear boundaries with concepts such as psychotherapy, consultation and counselling.The concept of supervision as described in the selected papers is applicable to public health nurses' supervision of clients, with adaptation caused by the contextual variation of the relationship. Related to clients, supervision can be defined as a formal, pedagogical, relational enabling process with the purpose to strengthen resources, enhance assertiveness and improve independence and coping. It is necessary that registered public health nurses have the competence to supervise.