Integrating the new genetics into health education practice
: exploring the challenges for midwives, nurses and health visitors in primary care

  • Sally McGregor

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Genetics offers enormous potential to influence the treatment and management of many common conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and asthma. The UK Government is committed to integrating genetics into mainstream NHS medicine.
    To help practitioners translate research developments into practice their role has been defined through a competency framework. However, practitioners' ability to integrate genetics effectively into care has been questioned. The aim of this thesis is to identify the challenges that need to be addressed if midwives, practice nurses and health visitors working in the community setting are to integrate genetics into health education practice.

    The research takes a multi-method approach, utilising a literature review, focus groups and a questionnaire. The literature indicates that there is little published data relating to health professionals' knowledge of genetics and the impact this may have upon their role. Focus groups were used to identify practitioners' perceptions of genetics and health education. The main themes were incorporated into a questionnaire which was distributed to practitioners throughout Wales. Data were analysed by hand and using the software packages NVivo and SPSS.

    Results indicate that practitioners' knowledge of health education and genetics is poor. However, exposure to clients with genetic conditions appears to stimulate practitioners' interest and knowledge in genetics and makes them more cautious about actively encouraging testing. Results indicate that the successful integration of genetics into practice is dependent in part upon finding appropriate ways to simulate clinical exposure in a supported and secure environment so that the practitioner's interest in genetics is activated and nurtured. These findings provide empirical evidence of the link between clinical exposure and learning. As such they are of particular significance in the drive to encourage nurses, midwives and health visitors to integrate genetics into everyday practice.

    Date of AwardFeb 2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRachel Iredale (Supervisor)


    • nursing
    • study and teaching
    • human genetics

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