id 18407



Analysis of the dissertations of master's degree in nursing of State University of Rio de Janeiro


Priscilla Pires da SilvaI, Michele dos Santos OliveiraII, Thelma SpindolaIII, Maria Lelita Xavier IV, Denize Cristina de OliveiraV, Vanessa Queli FrancoVI

I Nurse. Graduate degree in Nursing. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. Email:
II Nurse. Graduate degree in Nursing. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. Email:
III Nurse.| PhD in Nursing. Associate Professor. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. Email:
IV Nurse. PhD in Nursing. Adjunct Professor. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. E-mail:
V Nurse. PhD in Nursing. Full Professor. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. E-mail:
VI Graduate degree in nursing. Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University. Brazil. Email:
VII This is part of the research report entitled The scientific production in the master's thesis of the graduate nursing program at the UERJ, 2014.





Objective: to identify thematic and methodological trends in dissertations of the Postgraduate Nursing Program at Rio de Janeiro State University from 2000-2014. Method: this quantitative, bibliometric study collected data in 2014-2015 by applying a structured script. The study sample comprised 301 dissertations, which were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The study material is public domain, available online and in institution's library. Results: the dissertations used descriptive study – 258 (64.2%); interviews – 175 (49.7%); content analysis – 191 (58.2%); thematic focus on Nursing in Collective Health – 114 (38.0%) and formed part of the line of research in Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Collective Health and Nursing 109 (36.2%). Conclusion: analysis of the scientific production showed that the authors prioritized qualitative studies of themes in the areas of collective health and the fundamentals of nursing care, signaling one specific trend in the program considered.

Keywords: Nursing education; education; nursing graduate; nursing research; scientific production.




The object of this study is the thematic and methodological trend of master's thesis of the Graduate Nursing Program at the Rio de Janeiro State University (PPGENF/UERJ). A master thesis is a research report carried out during the graduate course sensu stricto (master and doctorate) to obtain the master's degree. A thesis has a unique theme that requires research in a given area of ​​expertise or specific methodsVII. Graduate Programs allow the development of scientific studies, the process of construction of knowledge and the creation of new technologies to improve teaching, assistance and research in nursing1.

With the aim to contribute to the production of knowledge, improvement of care and qualification of teachers, the Graduate Nursing Program and the master's course at the Nursing Faculty of the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) was created in 1998 by the resolution nº 020/98 of March 26. This resolution establishes the inclusion of the academic master's degree course in the Graduate Nursing Program sensu stricto at the Rio de Janeiro State University, which was approved by the Superior Council of Teaching and Research of the UERJ2.

On December 17, 1998, the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), whose main objective is to support the Ministry of Education in the formulation of postgraduate policies, approved and qualified the PPGENF/UERJ2.

A significant increase in the number of students enrolling in graduate nursing courses has been observed in recent decades. Research-related activities have been developed by teams such as research groups, with significant scientific productivity. Moreover, access to information has favored the process of accumulation and exchange of knowledge among peers3.

The first master's course class of the PPGENF/UERJ began in 1999 and the first thesis was defended in 2000. Fifteen years have passed since the creation of the course, what explains the interest of the authors in choosing the thematic and methodological trend of dissertations produced in the Graduate Nursing Program at the Rio de Janeiro State University as object of the present study.

In this context, the following research problem was set: What is the thematic and methodological trend of master's dissertations produced by the PPGENF/UERJ in the period 2000-2014? The relevance of the present study comes from its contribution to the understanding of the scientific production of Brazilian graduate programs for nursing knowledge in Brazil and Latin America, as well as to the history of nursing in the country.

The study has the objective of identifying the thematic and methodological trend of dissertations of the Graduate Nursing Program at the Rio de Janeiro State University produced during the period 2000-2014.



Graduate programs sensu stricto emerged in Brazil in 1961 with the Opinion 997, were established by the Law of Guidelines and Basis (LGB) and approved by the Federal Council of Education in 1965. They have the aim of training qualified teachers to meet the expansion of higher education and consequent need to increase the teaching staff and stimulate scientific and research studies to the development of the country4,5.

In this context, nursing research in Brazil was initially fostered by Graduate programs sensu stricto during the 1970s. Some milestones were the creation of the Master's course at the Anna Nery Nursing School in 1972, followed by the Nursing School of the University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto (USP), in 1973. Hence, in this period, seven master courses were registered in the South, two in the Northeastern region and four in the Southeast. Furthermore, the Inter-unit Doctorate Nursing Program was created in 1981, the first doctorate program that had partnership with nursing schools in São Paulo and Ribeirão Preto, both linked to the University of São Paulo. Since then, graduate programs have grown in Brazil, but at a lower extent than undergraduate nursing courses4,5.

Leveraging this process, in 1971, the Centre for Studies and Research in Nursing (CEPEn) was established. This entity makes up the Brazilian Association of Nursing (ABEn), whose purpose is to stimulate scientific research in nursing, combining theoretical knowledge with the practice of nursing.

Nursing research is characterized as systematic research to develop the knowledge about important issues for professionals, including practice, teaching and management of nursing. It is understood, therefore, that research is important for the development and use of knowledge on improving patient care6. This includes developing advanced nursing technologies and innovative products capable of generating best nursing care practices relevant or economic and social sustainability.

With the purpose of acquiring scientific knowledge, training new researchers and qualifying teachers, graduate courses have been expanded since the 1990s4. Five decades have passed since the creation of nursing graduate programs in Brazil. The current programs spare no efforts to provide qualified professionals who are able to conduct pertinent research to the profession, contributing with innovative work to the scientific community7.

Graduate nursing programs in Brazil are booming. The 2013 CAPES report reported the existence of 63 registered and recognized graduate nursing programs in the country. Of this total, 14 programs are intended for professional master's degree and 47 for academic master's degree. Brazil's Southeast Region concentrates most of Graduate Programs sensu stricto with 44 registered courses8,9.

Graduate nursing courses are distributed in the country as follows: there are two courses in the North region (2.3%) (academic master's degree), eight in the Midwest (9%) (two doctorate degree, five academic master's and one professional master's degree), 17 in the South (19.1%) (six doctorate degree, eight academic master's degree and three professional master's degree), 18 in the Northeast (20.2%) (five doctorate degree, 11 academic master's degree and two professional master's degree) and 44 in the Southeast (49.4%) (15 doctorate degree, 21 academic master's degree and eight professional master's degree)9.



This is a descriptive, exploratory and bibliometric study using documental analysis technique10,11. The total number of dissertations produced from 2000 to 2014 was 334. For the preparation of this study, dissertations presented in the selected time frame available for access was included, totaling 301 dissertations. Dissertations were accessed through the Sectorial Library of the Nursing Faculty of UERJ (163); the Digital Library of Dissertations and Dissertations of UERJ (113) available online; and from the archives of the PPGENF/UERJ (25).

Data were collected in the period 2014/2015 by applying a structured script with open and closed questions with the study variables. The following variables were selected for the research: theme of the research; type of research; methodological approach, instrument and data collection technique, data analysis technique, distribution of studies in the research lines of the PPGENF/UERJ and descriptors. The information was entered into a database built in the Microsoft Excel 2010 software and analyzed using descriptive statistics.

It was not necessary to submit the research to the Ethics Committee because the dissertation archives of the Nursing Faculty are of public domain. However, permission of the coordinator of the PPGENF/UERJ was requested to manipulate the Minute Book where dissertations are registered and which is not available online.



Dissertations in PPGENF/UERJ produced in the period studied (2000-2014) reached an average of 22 annual works. The characterization of dissertations of the academic master course according to methodological approach, research lines and thematic area are highlighted in Table 1.

Table 1: Distribution of dissertations according to the methodological approach, research line and thematic area. Rio de Janeiro, 2015.

Qualitative approach predominated in works, which is the case of 200 dissertations (66.4%), as well as thematic areas of Community Health Nursing, with 114 dissertations (38.0%), and Fundamental Nursing, with 70 (23.2%). The distribution of productions in the research lines was homogeneous.

The modality of study of dissertations produced in the PPGENF/UERJ can be seen in Table 2, noting that more than one modality was assigned for the same dissertation. Descriptive studies were majority, with 258 (64.2%) works.

Table 2: Type of study employed in dissertations produced in the PPGENF-UERJ. Rio de Janeiro, 2015.

Taxonomy that classifies studies according to the objectives and technical procedures was used,11 as seen in Table 2. Studies are organized according to the objectives and are classified as descriptive or exploratory research. This classification does a conceptual approximation to the theoretical framework of the study. As for the technical procedures, there are cohort studies, case studies, experimental research, documentary research, action research and literature review. This other classification on technical procedures enables the design of the type of study, approximating the theory of the captured data11.

The techniques of data analysis used in the dissertations produced in the PPGENF/UERJ are presented in Table 3, with emphasis on the content analysis and statistics, respectively with 191 (58.2%) and 105 (32.1%) works. Some dissertations indicated the use of more than one technique for data analysis.

Table 3: Distribution of dissertations according to data analysis technique. Rio de Janeiro, 2015.



Qualitative approach was used by most authors, 200 (66.4%), of dissertations produced in the PPGENF/UERJ. A study conducted in 2011 on the master's degree nursing course at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, found that 93% of dissertations had qualitative approach. It is noteworthy that qualitative studies seek to give voice to the subjects and values ​​the subjectivity in the construction of knowledge. This approach favors the understanding of the relations of approximation typical of the professional nursing practice and provides information to describe subjective elements present in the discourse of the subjects12. Quantitative research, in turn, gives the researcher an objective view of the reality observed, translated into numbers, with statistical indicators related to the theme studied. The trend of a particular theme can be measured through these findings13.

In the context of nursing research in Brazil, it is known that the first systematic investigation was organized by the Brazilian Nursing Association and concerned a quantitative Survey of Resources and Nursing needs in Brazil, held in 1958. Exploratory and descriptive studies using quantitative analysis were considerably present in nursing research until the early 1980s. With the trend of changing paradigms, which guided the production of knowledge in Brazil in the 1980s, and with the implementation of the Doctoral degree at the Nursing School of the University of São Paulo (1981) and the Anna Nery Nursing School (ANNS) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1989), nursing research changed its objects from a technical perspective with quantitative approach to issues of social nature, and then qualitative research started to be carried out5,14.

Quantitative and qualitative studies have space and importance in academia, especially in nursing. Investigations adopt either one approach or other depending on the object selected for the study and the intentions of the researcher15. Quantitative and qualitative approaches have been often complementarily used in studies, with the current trend conducting mixed research.

Whereas a line of research can be defined as a gathering of scientific themes based on investigations that will result in similar projects, 1 the authors had the interest to classify dissertations according to their distribution in research lines of the PPGENF/UERJ. These lines of research are grouped into a so-called area of ​​concentration: Nursing, Health and Society , subdivided into three lines, namely: 1) Philosophical, Theoretical and Technological Foundations of Nursing Care , which studies the philosophical and theoretical aspects and technologies used in individual assistance at all stages of human development; 2) Work, Education and Training in Health and Nursing with a focus on occupational health and vocational training in health; and 3)Knowledge, Policies and Practices in Community Health and Nursing, portraying the popular knowledge, the health process, policies and practices that use non-invasive technologies of care associated with common sense, present in the fields of public health16.

It is observed that 109 (36.2%) dissertations of the PPGENF/UERJ are in the third line, Knowledge, Policies and Practices in Community Health and Nursing, which was the line with the more works. In line with this, the thematic area Nursing in Community Health is the one with the majority of the analyzed products. It is observed that a significant part of dissertations, 114 (38.0%), had the thematic focus on Community Health, highlighting their relevant role in nursing research. The theme brings together three major areas surveyed: planning and management, social sciences and epidemiology.

Study showed that by 2008, more than 11,671 of the published works were related to the theme Nursing in Community Health, and the UERJ had produced and published 962 articles from 1998 to 2006 within this theme 17. It is believed that this result may be related to the implementation and expansion of strategies of the Unified Health System in the country, especially the expansion of the Family Health Strategy, which has become a major field of action of nurses. This trend was also recorded in a study that examined nursing research projects submitted to the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), in which Public Health was the Subarea that received the majority of proposals 18.

The line called Philosophical, Theoretical and Technological Foundations of Nursing Care is present in 106 (35.2%) dissertations, scoring the second most frequent line. A research15 analyzing the undergraduate monographs of the Nursing Faculty of the Nursing Course of the UERJ in 2011 found that the majority (61.9%) of the undergraduate research was in this line, as opposed to what was found about dissertations. This indicates that immediate professional practice arouses greater investigative interest among undergraduate students. In agreement with this, a study found that, in the first nine dissertations of the ANNS, the authors focused their interest in social assistance,19 possibly due to the need to explain the scientific principles of technical procedures of their teaching practice.

Considering the context of nursing, its involvement with the care/assistance of people and groups, the health policy permeates the action of professionals and public health is a field of activity of nurses, and the very subdivision of the graduate program in research lines, it is observed the a certain balance in the distribution of dissertations among the three lines of research. In view of the proposed Agenda of Research Priorities in Nursing (PPE), adjusting the focus of this research field to give visibility to constituted knowledge is necessary, in the "nursing care as a theoretical category, in the care subjects, in the professional skills and also in large cross-national problems in order to better define the disciplinary field and the interdisciplinary facet of this field of knowledge"20: 714.

The classification of dissertations in the thematic trends was based on the proposal made in the study, considering that "in Brazil, the areas of knowledge have been the subject of debate involving managers and administrators, funding and inspecting agencies, scientific societies, research institutes and the scientific community"18:2.

Research in the mental health area had reduced representation within the sample set of dissertations - 4 (1.3%). It is believed that, although the psychiatric reform has been consolidated by the Law 10,216 approved in 2001, this has not been able to influence the insertion of nurses in this field, and consequently few studies have been produced, as data in this study indicate. A research12 shows that there are 171 productions addressing this theme in catalogs of the CEPEn/ABEn, and that the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) was the institution where most studies in this area had been developed by the year of 2007 12. It is appropriate to note that the ANNS, linked to the UFRJ, is a pioneering institution of nursing education in Brazil. This was established in the early twentieth century, introducing the nursing profession according to the Model of Nightingale in the Brazilian scenario. The master's course offered by the ANNS was first created in Brazil in 1972, while the master's course of the PPGENF /UERJ emerged in the 1990s, and had its first class in 1999.

Regarding the type of study developed in the dissertations, most authors developed descriptive researches, 258 (64.2%), and they used more than one type of study per dissertation. Descriptive research has the power to capture elements, subject characteristics, phenomena and experiences under investigation. This type of study makes a connection between the variables of the object of the research regardless of the methodological approach adopted, which can be qualitative, quantitative or quanti-qualitative. Descriptive approach refers to statistical data in quantitative research, while qualitative approach, by describing the participant of the research, helps outline the impressions and subjectivities the researched subjects21.

The second most commonly used type of study in dissertations of the PPGENF/UERJ was exploratory research, with 68 (17.0%) records. Exploratory research allows the researcher to approach and familiarize himself with the theme and object proposed in their work, allowing a better exploration of the content. Exploratory studies aim to improve ideas and discover insights, deepening subjective thoughts, or consider other interpretations of the studied phenomenon21.

Twelve (3%) dissertations did not describe the type of study employed. This has been confirmed by the handling of dissertations, and it was observed that the type of study was not described in the summary of the dissertation, or in the methodology, where such information should necessarily be reported. The absence of this information is important because these are academic studies and the flaw may impair the reader's understanding as to the methods and techniques employed by the author to achieve the results presented.

As for data collection technique used in dissertations, these surpassed the total of products (301), with multiple techniques adopted per research, totaling 352 techniques to capture the information. Interviews were predominant, used in 175 (49.7%) studies, and the questionnaires were used in 77 (22%) studies, depending on the types of research developed.

Interview is an information tool that describes the interaction between the researcher and the respondent. Data is captured through verbal communication in its objective and subjective aspects, making participants to reflect on the subject, not limiting them to answer a predetermined question. This is a technique of social interaction that establishes a dialogue between two people. There are some interview modalities that can be classified as structured (with specific script, more objective); semi-structured (with open and closed questions, allowing the inclusion of additional topics to the question); and unstructured (open interview)13.

Questionnaires represent a structured instrument that seeks to capture information in an objective manner from participants. It is important that the researcher know the context that he seeks to investigate and that the instrument allow to collect information leading to the fulfillment of the objectives of the study. It can be used in qualitative and quantitative approaches, although it is more often used in the last. This tool provides support to assist in the assessment of the samples and provide data that can prove or disprove the hypotheses in a given research22.

Regarding the set of techniques for processing data, most dissertations adopted content analysis - 191 (58.2%), followed by statistical analysis - 105 (32.1%), as shown in Table 3. This is consistent with the data collection procedures. The content analysis technique is often adopted for the processing of data in qualitative research. The information provided by participants of the interviews or collected from written documents is categorized through analysis of the content of speeches, highlighting the structure of conversation and of records in the documents23. Statistical analysis, in turn, is used in the quantitative approach. This seeks to organize, interpret and transmit digital information in order to understand the hypothesis of the research, transforming data into meaningful numbers24.



Analysis of dissertations of the PPGENF/UERJ produced in the period 2000-2014 allowed knowing the trend of the work students have carried out in this course. Most studies are descriptive, exploratory, qualitative, employing interview and content analysis as techniques, similar to other studies that discuss the methodological trend of research conducted in the nursing field.

There was a concentration of studies in the thematic area of ​​Community Health, in the research line Knowledge, Policies and Practices in Community Health and Nursing. These results are internally consistent and point to an identity of the PPGENF/UERJ and of the training that has been provided to its graduate student. This training is marked by the exploration of the health-disease based process in its social attributes and has a remarkable presence of social and human sciences.

This study has as limitation the impossibility to find all dissertations produced in the time frame investigated. The absence of these documents, however, does not invalidate the presented results. The findings of this research contribute to the analysis of the scientific production of dissertations produced in the PPGENF/UERJ, its methodological trends and areas of interest, and the knowledge gaps were presented. The characterization studies also contributed to the rescue of the history of the institution.



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