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Keywords:

  • nurse specialist;
  • role perceptions;
  • role clarification;
  • role delineation;
  • research

The nurse specialist role in Hong Kong: perceptions of nurse specialists, doctors and staff nurses

Aim. The purpose of this study is to review and delineate the impact in terms of the perceived importance as well as the role components of nurse specialists in Hong Kong.

Rationale. The Nurse Specialist Scheme was launched in 1994 in Hong Kong. Studies in the West showed that there were impacts on the roles of other members among the health care team. However, minimal local published work has been carried out in reviewing the scheme.

Design. The design of the study was nonexperimental. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaires. The questionnaire adopted was developed by O’Mullan (1995), and the five roles studied were administration, clinical practice, consultation, education and research. To ensure the contextual relevancy and consistency of the questionnaire, content validity and test–retest reliability tests were performed. The content validity index was 0·85 and the test–retest reliability (Spearman’s ρ coefficient) ranged from 0·57 to 0·97. Subjects were obtained by stratified convenience sampling technique. The ratios for subject selection among the doctors, ward managers, nursing officers and registered nurses were 3:1:3:10, respectively. Because of the small numbers for nurse specialists, they were all included in the study. The final sample consisted of 11 nurse specialists, 47 ward managers, 56 nursing officers, 110 registered nurses and 15 doctors (n=239).

Results. The results showed that there were significant differences in the perceptions of importance of the administration, clinical practice, education and research roles, and the frequency of occurrence of the clinical practice and research roles. This was further verified by the Fisher’s Least Significant Differences (LSD) test.

Conclusions. A regulatory system of the nurse specialist was recommended to monitor the development of the nurse specialist role and practice and to ensure the safety of the public with regard to the emerging role. Both the implications and limitations are discussed.