The dignity of the nursing profession: a metasynthesis of qualitative research

The dignity of the nursing profession: a metasynthesis of qualitative research


Nursing continues to gain legitimation epistemologically and ontologically as a scientific discipline throughout the world. If a profession gains respect as a true autonomous scientific profession, then this recognition has to be put in practice in all environments and geographical areas. Nursing professional dignity, as a self-regarding concept, does not have a clear definition in the literature, and it has only begun to be analyzed in the last 10 years.


The purpose of this meta-synthesis was to determine the various factors that constitute the notion of nursing professional dignity. The target was to create a tentative model of the concept.

Research design

The research design was a meta-synthesis (N = 15 original articles) of nursing professional dignity described in the literature, based on the guidelines by Noblit and Hare.

Method and findings

Original studies were sought out from electronic databases and manual searches. The selection of literature was conducted on stages based on titles (n = 2595), abstracts (n = 70), and full-texts (n = 15) according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. From this analysis, a clear definition of nursing professional dignity emerged that underscored two main macro-dimensions constituting this intertwined, multidimensional, and complex notion: characteristics of the human beings and workplace elements.


The recognition of nursing professional dignity could have a positive impact on patients because the results clearly showed that nurses are more prone to foster patients' dignity, patients' safety, and a better quality of care if their own dignity is respected. If nurses are uncomfortable, humiliated, or not seen in their professional role, it is difficult to give to others good care, good support, or good relationships.


Human beings; nursing; professional dignity; professional values; workplace elements.



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