In 1999 the Scottish Office, United Kingdom, intimated that the Chief Nursing Officer would undertake a policy review of nurses' contribution to improving the public's health. The importance of reviewing the scientific literature on the effectiveness of public health nursing was recognized as a crucial part of the policy review. A final report was expected within a 6-month period. The reason for the short time period was to fit the policy-making schedule. This paper discusses our literature review for this work.