Genetics in the Danish nursing education: A questionnaire study

Kari K. Nissen, Thomas R. Mikkelsen, Karin Christiansen


Objective: It is well established that genetics plays an increasing role in healthcare. This has given rise to an ongoing discussion about the genetics competencies that healthcare personnel should possess. Nurses are key players in healthcare, and several studies have found that current genetics teaching in nursing education is insufficient. Other studies have shown that many nurses have a very limited knowledge of genetics. The objective of the present study was to gain insight into the genetics content in the Danish nursing education.

Methods: We conducted a questionnaire study, involving one science lecturer from each of the 26 Danish nursing schools, asking informants about the status of genetics at their nursing school, e.g. curriculum, number of teaching lessons and exam.

Results: With a response rate of 100%, we found a large variation between schools regarding the number of genetics lessons offered, ranging from two to eleven lessons. There was also a large variation with regard to curriculum. Most schools used one of two textbooks written in Danish, and classical genetics subjects such as DNA structure, protein synthesis, single gene diseases, pedigrees, and chromosome abnormalities were part of the literature curriculum in almost all schools, with variation in the level of detail. Genetics subjects of specific relevance to nursing and healthcare, such as pharmacogenetics and cancer genetics, were only part of the literature curriculum in some schools. Genetics was only a minor exam subject (if at all), and inclusion of ethical and social aspects of genetics in healthcare varied considerably.

Conclusions: This study gives a unique insight into the situation regarding genetics in the Danish nursing education, and we argue that national recommendations regarding genetics teaching in nursing education are of importance in order to harness the full potential of genetics in healthcare.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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