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Exploring views on Swedish district nurses' prescribing – a focus group study in primary health care


  • Susan Wilhelmsson RN, PhD,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Medicine and Care, Division of Nursing Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden, and County Council of Östergötland, Unit of Research and Development in Primary Care and Psychiatry, Östergötland, Sweden
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  • Mats Foldevi MD, PhD

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Division of General Practice and Primary Care, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
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Susan Wilhelmsson, Unit of Research and Development in Primary Care and Psychiatry, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden (tel.: +46 13 228511; e-mail:


• Since 1994 district nurses (DNs) in Sweden have been permitted to prescribe drugs from a limited list. This reform has met severe resistance from doctors and the opinions of general practitioners (GPs) and DNs have differed in many aspects.

• The aim of this study was to gain deeper understanding of the different opinions about DNs' prescribing and to explore the impact of the reform on primary care.

• Six focus group interviews were conducted, four with DNs and two with GPs.

• Data analysis revealed six categories, which were condensed into two dimensions. The dimensions were individual prerequisites, with the categories responsibility and knowledge, and organizational prerequisites, with the categories distribution of work, climate of co-operation, resistance and economic considerations.

• District nurses were very positive towards prescribing and had gained new knowledge through the compulsory training course and via discussions with pharmacists. Because of the responsibility required for prescribing, some nurses had introduced systems for self-monitoring. Prescribing was seen as a natural part of the nursing process. All interviewees could describe periods of resistance against the reform, and the head of the health centre was a key person for attitudes at the workplace.

• The DNs found the nurse prescribing reform very positive. They experienced a strengthening of professionalism and also thought that the reform was a natural development. Negative attitudes and opinions offset the positive feelings. The resistance that had appeared in the beginning had now turned into silent acceptance.