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Nurses joining family doctors in primary care practices: perceptions of patients with multimorbidity

Martin Fortin1*, Catherine Hudon1, Frances Gallagher2, Antoine L Ntetu3, Danielle Maltais3 and Hassan Soubhi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada

2 School of Nursing Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada

3 Department of Humanities, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada

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BMC Family Practice 2010, 11:84  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-84

Published: 4 November 2010



Among the strategies used to reform primary care, the participation of nurses in primary care practices appears to offer a promising avenue to better meet the needs of vulnerable patients. The present study explores the perceptions and expectations of patients with multimorbidity regarding nurses' presence in primary care practices.


18 primary (health) care patients with multimorbidity participated in semi-directed interviews, in order to explore their perceptions and expectations in regard to the involvement of nurses in primary care practices. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. After reviewing the transcripts, the principal investigator and research assistants performed thematic analysis independently and reached consensus on the retained themes.


Patients with multimorbidity were open to the participation of nurses in primary care practices. They expected greater accessibility, for both themselves and for new patients. However, the issue of shared roles between nurses and doctors was a source of concern. Many patients held the traditional view of the nurse's role as an assistant to the doctor in his or her various duties. In general, participants said they were confident about nurses' competency but expressed concern about nurses performing certain acts that their doctor used to, notwithstanding a close collaboration between the two professionals.


Patients with multimorbidity are open to the involvement of nurses in primary care practices. However, they expect this participation to be established using clear definitions of professional roles and fields of practice.