Journal Article

Core competencies for UK occupational health nurses: a Delphi study

D. Lalloo, E. Demou, S. Kiran, M. Gaffney, M. Stevenson and E. B. Macdonald

in Occupational Medicine

Volume 66, issue 8, pages 649-655
Published in print November 2016 | ISSN: 0962-7480
Published online August 2016 | e-ISSN: 1471-8405 | DOI:

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Occupational health nurses (OHNs) play a pivotal role in the delivery of occupational health (OH) services. Specific competency guidance has been developed in a number of countries, including the UK. While it is acknowledged that UK OHN practice has evolved in recent years, there has been no formal research to capture these developments to ensure that training and curricula remain up-to-date and reflect current practice.


To identify current priorities among UK OHNs of the competencies required for OH practice.


A modified Delphi study undertaken among representative OHN networks in the UK. This formed part of a larger study including UK and international occupational physicians. The study was conducted in two rounds using a questionnaire based on available guidance on training competencies for OH practice, the published literature, expert panel reviews and conference discussions.


Consensus among OHNs was high with 7 out of the 12 domains scoring 100% in rating. ‘Good clinical care’ was the principal domain ranked most important, followed by ‘general principles of assessment & management of occupational hazards to health’. ‘Research methods’ and ‘teaching & educational supervision’ were considered least important.


This study has established UK OHNs’ current priorities on the competencies required for OH practice. The timing of this paper is opportune with the formal launch of the Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing planned in 2018 and should inform the development of competency requirements as part of the Faculty’s goals for standard setting in OHN education and training.

Keywords: Competencies; Delphi study; occupational health nursing; occupational health nurse training.

Journal Article.  4382 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Occupational Medicine

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