Professional Autonomy of Nurses: A Qualitative Meta‑Synthesis Study

Leila Rouhi-Balasi, Nasrin Elahi, Abbas Ebadi, Simin Jahani, Maryam Hazrati


Background: Autonomy is the main element of professional practice in nursing. However, despite the

many studies conducted on nursing autonomy, this concept is not fully understood and a comprehensive

explanation of this concept in nursing is necessary. Meta‑synthesis offers a way to increase the

understanding of this concept using existing research findings. Thus, the present study aimed to

explain the concept of professional nursing autonomy.

Materials and Methods: This qualitative

meta‑synthesis was conducted based on a modified version of Noblit and Hare’s meta‑ethnography

approach and qualitative studies on the concept of nursing autonomy published in databases such

as PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane, SID, IranMedex, Magiran, and ScienceDirect in

the past 15 years (2003–2018).

Results: Thirteen articles that reported the experiences of nurses

regarding professional autonomy were included in the research. Based on the meta‑synthesis of

findings, the final interpretation of the professional autonomy of clinical nurses was presented in the

three themes of professional competence, professional decision making, and professional interactions.

Conclusions: According to the results, the concept of professional autonomy is a developmental

achievement based on patient‑based professional competence along with self‑reliance to provide the

best care plan for the promotion of patients’ health through the professional decision making and

professional interactions with other professional team members.


Nurses, professional autonomy, qualitative research

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