Ageism directed at older nurses in their workplace: A systematic review

Chunxu Chen, Kay Shannon, Sara Napier, Stephen Neville, Jed Montayre

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Aims: To identify and synthesise evidence related to ageism in older regulated nurses' practice settings. Design: A systematic review following Joanna Briggs Institute methodology. Methods: The review included empirical studies that involved older nurses as the primary study population and studies that focused on ageism in older nurses' work environments, including strategies or interventions to address ageism within the workplace. Following the initial screening, all relevant studies were critically appraised by two reviewers to ensure they were appropriate to include in the review. A synthesis without meta-analysis reporting (SWiM) guideline was employed in the review. Data Sources: Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval Systems Online, Scopus, Psychological Information Database and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and Google Scholar were searched to identify empirical studies and a range of academic institutional websites were accessed for master's and doctoral dissertations and theses. The search covered the period from January 2022 to May 2022, and only publications in English from 2000 onwards were considered. Results: Nineteen studies were included, ten qualitative studies, seven quantitative studies and two mixed methods secondary analyses. Our results revealed that negative perceptions and beliefs about older nurses' competencies and skills prevail in their practice settings, which influences older nurses' health and well-being as well as their continuation of practice. Further, older nurses' continuation of practice can be facilitated by having a positive personal outlook on ageing, meaningful relationships in their practice settings and working in an environment that is age-inclusive. Conclusion: To combat ageism in older nurses' practice settings and support their continuation of practice, effective interventions should be organisational-led. The interventions should focus on fostering meaningful relationships between older nurses and their colleagues and managers. Further, healthcare institutions should implement initiatives to promote an age-inclusive work environment that supports an age-diverse nursing workforce. Implications for the profession and/or patient care: The review findings offer insights for healthcare managers, policymakers and researchers, emphasising the need for anti-ageism policies in healthcare organisations. According to WHO (2021), educational activities such as role-playing and simulation during in-service training may also be effective interventions. Additionally, incorporating anti-ageism initiatives into staff meetings and mandating anti-ageism training could support the continuation of practice for older nurses while fostering a more age-diverse nursing workforce. Impact: We found evidence on the presence of ageism in older nurses' workplace and the detrimental effects of ageism on older nurses' well-being and continuation of practice. Importantly, we identified a lack of organisational initiatives to address ageism and support older nurses. These findings should encourage healthcare organisations to address ageism in older nurses' practice settings and prompt policymakers to develop age-inclusive policies that support older nurses' continuation of practice. Reporting method: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and Synthesis Without Meta-analysis checklists were used to report the screening process. Trial and Protocol Registration: The PROSPERO registration number for the review was CRD42022320214 ( No Patient or Public Contribution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • age-diverse
  • ageism
  • nursing
  • nursing workforce
  • nursing workforceage discrimination
  • older nurses
  • systematic review
  • workplaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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