An exploration of language: How nurses describe social factors that contribute to health

Published:January 02, 2023DOI:


      • The term social factors is used broadly by nurses.
      • Nurses shifted what was included in social factors over time.
      • Non-deterministic language is beneficial.



      Over the last two centuries nurses have been practicing, teaching, and conducting research on social factors that contribute to health and the language has evolved over this time.


      To explore how social factors that contribute to health are described by nurse authors and how that use has changed over time.


      A scoping review using the JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis, Cochrane Handbook, and PRISMA guidelines was completed.


      From 1967 to 2021, nurses used the term “social factors” most commonly and there was a shift from demographic to social factors.


      As the language that nurses use has shifted from demographic descriptions to the social factors that may be associated with those descriptions, nurses have an opportunity to promote the use of non-deterministic language for health promotion and research.


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