International Journal of
Nursing and Midwifery

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Nurs. Midwifery
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2456
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJNM
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 212

Full Length Research Paper

The perceptions of visitors at acute care units in two private hospitals in Gauteng, South Africa regarding the image of nurses and nursing

Alida van Tonder
  • Alida van Tonder
  • Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria
  • Google Scholar
Neltjie C. van Wyk
  • Neltjie C. van Wyk
  • Department of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria
  • Google Scholar

  •  Accepted: 08 June 2011
  •  Published: 30 September 2011



The aim of this study was to determine and describe the perception that visitors to acute care units have, regarding the image of nurses and nursing and to make appropriate recommendations to raise the profile of nurses and to encourage more respect for the profession.  The public’s image of nurses is tarnished by newspaper reports on poor patient care. A questionnaire was used to collect data from visitors of patients receiving acute care at two private hospitals in the Gauteng Province in South Africa.  They were selected as a section of the public who were in contact with nurses and who were thus aware of what nurses do and the relationship between nurses and their patients, due to their family or friends being cared for by nurses. A convenience sample was used whereby the first 110 willing adults (18 years or older) who visited patients in two identified acute care units of two selected private hospitals in a specific week, during 16:00 and 20:00 h, were invited to participate in the study. The data was analyzed through descriptive statistics by means of a computerized statistical program and presented as frequency tables, pie diagrams, figures and percentages. The participants described a positive image of nurses and nursing.  The results contradict the negative image of nurses as portrayed by the media. This could be due to the fact that, the media focuses only on newsworthy events in society, unfortunately in the majority of cases with a negative meaning. The results of the study, indicating a positive image of nurses and nursing by the public, could serve as a means to enhance the image of nurses by communicating it to the media.  In the event of the media becoming aware of negative incidents, a cooperative agreement between the hospital and newspaper management should ensure that the true facts are being reflected in the reports. 


Key words:  Public’s perception of nursing, status of nurses, nursing profession