Original Research

Self-care behaviours and practices of professional nurses working in primary health care clinics

Mukelani L. Muhlare, Charlene Downing
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 15, No 1 | a4188 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.4188 | © 2023 Mukelani L. Muhlare, Charlene Downing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2023 | Published: 08 November 2023

About the author(s)

Mukelani L. Muhlare, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Charlene Downing, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Historically, the nursing profession focused on caring for patients, families and communities but neglected aspects of self-care. Self-care is essential for nurses, as it could impact the quality of care nurses render to patients.

Aim: This article investigated professional nurses’ self-care behaviours and practices in primary health care clinics.

Setting: The study was conducted at selected primary health care facilities (clinics) in regions C and D of the city of Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive research survey. Stratified random sampling was used to select respondents. A demographic questionnaire, Self-Care Activities Screening Scale (SASS-14), Nature of Supportive Work Environment questionnaire and Self-Care Work and Home Environmental Factors (SWHEF) questionnaire were combined as the data collection instrument for this study. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the collected data.

Results: The finding revealed health consciousness: 86.6% of professional nurses were alert to changes in their health, and 75.2% constantly examined their health. The average professional nurse slept only 7–8 h every day. While 59.4% of professional nurses who participated in the study seldom ate healthy foods (i.e. foods with less sugar, salt, fried snacks or pre-cooked food), 71.7% rarely ate three fruits and two portions of vegetables daily. Only 57.4% of professional nurses regularly drank eight recommended glasses of water daily.

Conclusion: According to the findings, primary health care nurses must prioritise self-care and work in supportive environments.

Contribution: The study acknowledged the need to promote self-care and supportive work environments for professional nurses in primary health care setting.


behaviour; Orem’s self-care theory; practices; professional nurses; primary health care; self-care.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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