• Delphi technique;
  • telephone advice nursing;
  • telephone nurse;
  • telephone triage


• By telephoning a healthcare call centre, individuals in Sweden can consult a nurse to discuss medical problems and health care accessibility, and to receive professional information on how to find their way about the health care system.

• The aim of the study was to identify problems, difficulties and disadvantages that telephone nurses with varying degrees of experience had met during their professional careers.

• The Delphi technique was used with three sets of questionnaires.

• Twenty-five nurses with varying experience of working with telephone advice from six 24-hours call centres participated in the study. The response rate was 100%.

• An open-ended question generated 154 statements. Comments were categorized into 24 different problem categories.

• Ten problem categories were mainly related to the nurse perspective, i.e. the problems experienced were associated with the qualities of the nurse, eight principally to the patient perspective, i.e. problems associated with caller characteristics and six mostly to the organizational perspective, i.e. problems linked to the organization of the national health service.

• ‘Lack of health care resources’ was rated as the biggest problem, ‘second-hand consultations’ as the second and ‘always making a decision’ as the third biggest problem.

• Decision-making seems to be the core of telephone advice nursing and problems related to the nurses, patients and organization seem to influence the telephone nurses' working situation.

• Training should focus on active listening and handling social conflicts.