AIM: This paper is a report of an integrative literature review to investigate: (a) the extent of entrepreneurial activity by nurses, midwives and health visitors in the United Kingdom and (b) the factors that influenced these activities. BACKGROUND: Internationally, social and commercial entrepreneurial activity is regarded as important for economic growth and social cohesion. METHODS: Seventeen bibliographic databases were searched using single and combined search terms: 'entrepreneur$', 'business', 'private practice', 'self-employ$', 'intrapreneur$''social enterprise$''mutuals', 'collectives', 'co-op' and 'social capital' which were related to a second layer of terms 'Nurs$', 'Midwi$', 'Visit$'. 'Entrepreneur$' Private Midwi$, Independent Midwi$, and 'nursing workforce'. In addition, hand searches of non-indexed journals and grey literature searches were completed. The following inclusion criteria were: (a) describing nurses, midwife and/or health visitor entrepreneurship (b) undertaken in the UK, and (c) reported between January 1996 and December 2005. RESULTS: Of 154 items included only three were empirical studies; the remainder were narrative accounts. While quality of these accounts cannot be verified, they provide as complete an account as possible in this under-researched area. The numbers of nurses, midwives and health visitors acting entrepreneurially were very small and mirror international evidence. A categorization of entrepreneurial activity was inductively constructed by employment status and product offered. 'Push' and 'pull' influencing factors varied between types of entrepreneurial activity. CONCLUSION: Empirical investigation into the extent to which nurses and midwives respond to calls for greater entrepreneurialism should take account of the complex interplay of contextual factors (e.g. healthcare legislation), professional and managerial experience and demographic factors
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