Social barriers experienced by female Saudi nursing students while studying nursing: A phenomenological study

Muna Alharbi, Lisa McKenna, Dawn Whittall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Saudi Arabia has a shortage of Saudi nurses in the workforce, particularly with limited numbers of local female nurses. Social factors may influence views towards the discipline of nursing thus influencing interest of local females choosing to undetake nursing studies. The aim of this paper is to explore the lived experiences of Saudi female nursing students regarding the social barriers encountered related to studying nursing. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided by Van Manen underpinned the study. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted, and data thematically analysed. Eight female nursing students from one university nursing school in Saudi Arabia participated. Two main themes emerged, the first, 'dealing with social factors', describes the range of social issues encountered by students. The second theme, 'social support', describes support needs and strategies used by students as they faced social issues. This study demonstrates that Saudi female nursing students could generally overcome social difficulties they confronted, particularly when they received viable social support to encourage them in their studies. Therefore, it is important to understand the social factors and experiences that may act as barriers to students completing their nursing studies. This can help in the recruitment and retention of nursing students and design of supportive programs to facilitate their studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Females
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing student
  • Phenomenology
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Social barriers

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