Primary health care content in Australian undergraduate nursing curricula

Pauline Murray-Parahi, Michelle DiGiacomo, Debra Jackson, Jane Phillips, Patricia M. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The importance of primary health care PHC is receiving increasing attention. The demand for skilled workers is due to an increased emphasis on community-based care but until recent times pre-registration preparation for nurses, including clinical placements, have focussed on acute care specialties. Aim: To systematically review, measure and describe the PHC content in the undergraduate nursing curriculum in Australian schools of nursing over time. Methods: A cross-sectional study of all Australian universities offering undergraduate (pre-registration) baccalaureate degrees was undertaken in February 2017. Curriculum artifacts were retrieved from university websites. A terminology matrix guided retrieval of PHC content. Findings: All 29 universities offering pre-registration undergraduate nursing degrees in Australia were included in this study. While most universities cite PHC principals as core values underpinning their undergraduate curriculum, only 12 (<2%) of the 694 subject titles had obvious or manifest “primary health care” content and these were mainly offered in 1st and 3rd year. Subject outlines tended to demonstrate more explicit content than subject titles. Discussion: This study confirms ambiguity in PHC interpretation and nomenclature, and opportunities for undergraduate preparation for nursing roles in the home setting is limited. Prospective undergraduate nurses seeking careers in PHC might be deterred by a lack of manifest PHC content in the public domain, which may or may not accurately represent the actual content provided. Conclusion: The predominance of acute episodic care in both curricula and clinical experiences potentially diminishes the importance of PHC. This study offers some direction for education providers and policymakers wishing to attract and prepare next generation nurses for roles in PHC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Baccalaureate
  • Community nurse
  • Content analysis
  • Curricula
  • New graduate
  • Pre-licensure
  • Preparation for practice
  • Preregistration
  • Primary care
  • Primary health care
  • Registered nurse
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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