A National Needs Assessment of Nurses Providing Health Care to Adolescents

Elizabeth M. Saewyc, Linda H. Bearinger, Gail McMahon, Theora Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Nurses, as the largest group of health providers in the United States, and by virtue of their scope of practice, are in an important position to promote the health of adolescents. A national survey of nurse members of the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners, and the National Association of School Nurses was conducted in 1997 (n = 520) and was compared with findings from a parallel survey conducted in 1985 that assessed perceived competence in addressing common adolescent health issues, relevance of those issues to nurses' practice, and leadership skills. Findings provided a hopeful yet cautious picture of nurses' competencies. Strong increases in the proportion of nurses who felt equipped to address common health problems of youth suggest improved adolescent health education among nurses. Yet, at least 25% of nurses indicated a low level of knowledge in half of the adolescent health areas, and, like 1985's nurses, most nurses in 1997 did not feel competent to address the needs of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. Several priority areas in Healthy People 2010 were considered by 25% or more of the nurses to be irrelevant to their practice, including smoking cessation, suicide, violence, and pregnancy. The task remains to assure that all nurses who work with adolescents are equipped to respond to their diverse and unique health needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-313
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this study was provided by Grants T80MC00021 (Center for Adolescent Nursing), MCJ 00985 (Leadership Education in Adolescent Health), and MCJ273A03-03-0 (PH Nutrition Training Program) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and by Grant 448-CCU513331 (Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Center) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  • Adolescent health
  • Continuing education
  • Leadership
  • Nursing competency
  • Nursing education


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