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J Clin Nurs. 2008 Nov;17(22):2979-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02345.x.

'It's easier to talk to a woman'. Aspects of gender in Swedish telenursing.

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala Science Park, Uppsala, Sweden.



To describe and explore gender aspects in telenursing as experienced by Swedish telenurses.


Telenurses at call centres in Sweden offer triage recommendations and self-care advice to the general public over the telephone, on a wide range of health problems. The demands on telenurses are multifaceted and competence is needed in many fields such as nursing, pharmacology, psychology and communication. Previous studies have shown that telenurses encounter many ethical dilemmas and that some of these are to do with gender related issues. Most telenurses, as well as most callers, are women. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that gender plays an important role in the work of telenurses.


Descriptive and explorative qualitative design.


A purposive sample of 12 female telenurses in Sweden participated in in-depth interviews twice during 2004-2005. The transcribed interviews were analysed inductively with a stepwise thematic method.


Five themes emerged from the interviews, namely: female subordination in the family, disrespect in dialogue with female nurses, distrust in fathers' competence, reluctant male callers and woman-to-woman connection.


Gender construction and cultural gender norms seem to be at work in the encounter between Swedish telenurses and callers. Questions of power relations, the picture of the mother/woman as the primary carer for small children and distrusting men in their parental role were particularly highlighted.


Telenurses should be aware of the risk of stereotyping their dialogues with callers in a way that seems to fit better with female callers' ways of communicating. Clinical supervision based on reflective practice and peer reviews of calls might diminish this risk. Telenurses also need more training in handling overt or covert power messages based on male superiority.

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