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Open Access Research article

An exploration of how nurse prescribing is being used for patients with respiratory conditions across the east of England

Nicola Carey*, Karen Stenner and Molly Courtenay

Author Affiliations

School of Health and Social Care, University of Surrey, Surrey, England

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:27  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-27

Published: 21 January 2014

Abstract

Background

There is a need to reduce symptoms, exacerbations and improve quality of life for patients with respiratory diseases. Across the world, increasing numbers of nurses are adopting the prescribing role and can potentially enhance service provision. Evidence suggests improved quality of care and efficiencies occur when nurses adopt the prescribing role. No evidence is available on the views of nurse prescribers who care for respiratory patients. The aim was to explore how nurse prescribing is being used for patients with respiratory conditions in different care settings across one strategic health authority, and whether this has benefited patients, healthcare professionals and the National Health Service.

Methods

A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 40 nurses who prescribed for respiratory patients across the six counties in the East of England Strategic Health Authority. Data were collected in 2011 and subject to thematic analysis.

Results

Disease management, including treatment and prevention of exacerbations, emergency episodes and minor illness, optimising and co-ordinating care were key aspects of care provided. Findings are reported under three themes: access, adherence and risk management and impact on nurses. Prescribing enabled nurses overcome existing problems in service provision to improve access, efficiency and patient convenience, reducing hospital admissions and length of stay. It also enabled patient centered consultations, which encouraged self-management, improved adherence, helped manage expectations, and reduced inappropriate service use. While participants experienced increased job satisfaction, knowledge and confidence, concerns were raised about increased responsibility, support, governance and future commissioning of services in line with planned major changes to the National Health Service.

Conclusions

This study provides new knowledge about how nurse prescribers provide care to patients with respiratory diseases. Despite a lack of consensus over the most effective model of respiratory care, prescribing was reported to have improved and extended points of access to treatment, and supported management of complex patients, particularly vulnerable groups. Given the high burden of chronic respiratory disease to patients and families this has important implications that need to be considered by those responsible for commissioning services in the United Kingdom and other countries.

Keywords:
Access; Adherence; Nurse prescribing; Respiratory disease; Risk management; Vulnerable groups