BACKGROUND: Nurses have the opportunity to bring a unique perspective to genetic and genomic healthcare through their emphasis of health promotion, prevention, screening, caring, and patient, family, and community relationships. Nurses are expected to have genetic and genomic knowledge that can be integrated into clinical practice. However, researchers today are finding nursing students are not competent or comfortable in the clinical applications of genetics and genomics, even though these students will soon be working in healthcare as it advances in these fields. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the genetic and genomic knowledge of nursing undergraduate students and explore their attitudes about using this knowledge in practice. METHOD: A pre- and posttest design was used. Student knowledge was measured online using the Genomic Nursing Concept Inventory (GNCI©) in both tests. Demographic questions were included in the pretest and questions regarding attitudes toward comfort and readiness to apply that knowledge were included in the posttest. The pretest was administered at the beginning of the Spring 2014 semester. The posttest was administered at the end of the same semester, after the nursing students received the majority of genetic and genomic instruction from their program's curriculum. Descriptive statistics were used to examine all data. Total and subscale knowledge scores on the GNCI© were computed for each test. A paired t-test was used to compare pre- and post-GNCI© total and subscale scores. Correlations were calculated at both time points. A Spearman correlation was used to examine the relationship between prior experience with genetic education or exposure to people with a genetic condition and total pre-score knowledge on the pretest. For the posttest, a total attitude score was calculated to examine the relationship between attitude and post total knowledge scores using a Pearson's r correlation. FINDINGS: 109 undergraduate junior nursing students participated. Gains in total and subscale knowledge between the pre- and posttest were statistically significant (p < 0.05), except for the Mutations subscale. For the pretest GNCI©, the average mean score was 45%, which improved to 50% at the time of the posttest. Lowest scoring items were in the Genome Basics subscale, whereas highest scoring items were found within the Inheritance subscale for the posttest. Mean total attitude scores were 28.33 (SD = 5.17) indicating students had a relatively positive attitude towards using their knowledge base in practice. The majority of students (87.1%) agreed that it is important for the nurse to incorporate genetic and genomic knowledge into clinical practice although only 34.9% felt ready to do so. DISCUSSION: Genetics and genomic knowledge and preparedness were low among nursing students. This demonstrates a need for more integration of genetic and genomic content within nursing curriculum, including a review of basic concepts. Nurses are expected to perform comprehensive health assessments by incorporating knowledge of genetic, environmental, and genomic influences and risk factors. Lack of a basic understanding could lead to patient consequences related to inadequate risk assessment, referrals for genetic counseling, and patient education.


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Thesis Completion





Loerzel, Victoria


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Dissertations, Academic -- Nursing; Nursing -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Nursing Commons