To understand nurses’ perceptions of volunteer support in health care settings.


Increasingly, volunteers provide specialised support to health care service users, requiring volunteers and nurses to work closely together. However, little is known about nurses’ perceptions of volunteer support.


A scoping review was conducted following the PRISMA-ScR checklist. A mixed-methods convergent integrative approach was taken guided by the JBI framework. Quantitative data were transformed into qualitative data for synthesis and descriptive thematic analysis. Six databases were searched (CINHAL+, EMBASE, PubMed, Scopus, PsycInfo, ProQuest Health and Medical Collection) on 24 January 2022 using terms related to nurses, perceptions, volunteers and care settings, followed by a manual search. The search was limited to English language articles published during 2000–2022. Studies were included if they reported nurses’ perceptions of volunteers supporting care within any health care setting.


Of the 943 records identified, 12 met the inclusion criteria. All 12 were included in the review following critical appraisal. Five themes were identified: perceived benefits for patients, volunteers providing support for nursing staff, nurses’ valuing volunteer support, nurses’ understanding of the volunteer role and nurses’ understanding of recruitment and training of volunteers.


Nurses generally viewed volunteer support positively and perceived that it benefitted patients and assisted nurses. Some nurses raised concerns about the burden of additional supervision of volunteers and lacked knowledge of the volunteer role, recruitment and training. Emerging innovative models of nurse-led volunteer support can maximise the contribution of volunteers and help overcome barriers to volunteer acceptance.


These findings will inform volunteer policies and provide guidance in developing volunteer support programs.

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