Public Health Nursing Activities: Visible or Invisible?

Marjorie A. Schaffer, Linda Olson Keller, Dawn Reckinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To promote visibility of public health nurses (PHNs), this study identified public health nursing activities and explored PHN perceptions of the impact of their activities on the health of the communities they serve. Design and Sample: Two surveys with questions focusing on PHN activities were made available electronically. Following the initial survey, the second survey had more detailed questions about PHN activities, including time spent and frequency of activities as well as open-ended questions. Sixty staff level PHNs, representing 29 states, completed the first survey; 49 completed the second survey. Measures: Demographic variables and PHN activities were analyzed by population, setting, program, intervention, essential services, and prevention level using descriptive statistics. Themes or categories were determined through a content analysis of responses to three open-ended questions. Results: PHNs reported a wide variety of activities that included: (1) individual/family, community, and systems intervention levels, (2) primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, and (3) all 10 Public Health Essential Services. PHNs perceived they perform work that is essential for community health. Conclusion: PHNs do work that is both visible and invisible. PHNs need to be proactive in promoting all their work to increase the visibility of their contributions to population health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-720
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Interventions
  • Nursing workforce
  • Public health nursing practice


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