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Work and Wellness Hand-in-Hand: The Role of the New Zealand PATHS Program Nurse in Improving Health and Employment Outcomes


  • Eileen McKinlay MA (App) RN,

  • Sharon Mackie MHSc RN,

  • Kerri Arcus MA (App) RN,

  • Katherine Nelson PhD RN



Providing Access to Health Solutions (PATHS) is a New Zealand primary care based interdisciplinary, intersectoral vocational rehabilitation program working with clients who are unemployed and have health challenges inhibiting employment. This study examined the contribution of the nurse working in the PATHS program.


A case study approach included in-depth interviews of PATHs program clients, stakeholders, and a documentation review.


Five themes emerged from the triangulated data: assessment and planning, personal and systems advocacy, persevering to the goal, the nursing approach, and respecting timing.


Program stakeholders valued the nurse's role in client assessment, risk analysis, ongoing client monitoring, and client coaching. Clients valued the nurse's work in supporting health literacy, joint health planning, advocating for timely provision of health and lifestyle behavior services as well as supporting, coaching, and prompting.


These roles together with those of other PATHS team members have led to many clients successfully entering or re-entering employment.