Aim. The aim of this study was to identify patient problems, nursing interventions and nursing outcomes to be included in a nursing minimum data set for Ireland.
Background. In 2002, a research programme funded by the Irish Health Research Board, was established to develop and test a nursing minimum data set to capture the nursing contribution to patient care in Ireland. A nursing minimum data set is comprised of the smallest number of information items required to capture the range of patient problems, nursing interventions and nursing outcomes recorded by nurses on a regular basis. Nursing minimum data sets have been developed in several countries for a range of applications such as workforce planning, financing nursing care, examining patient profiles and forecasting trends in nursing diagnoses.
Method. Eleven focus groups were conducted with 59 registered general nurses to explore their conceptualizations of patient problems, nursing interventions and nursing outcomes. In addition, data relating to nurses’ recordings of patient problems, nursing interventions and nursing outcomes were collected from a sample of 45 sets nursing records. The research took place between January 2003 and April 2004.
Findings. A range of patient problems, nursing interventions and outcomes were identified that were similar to those found in existing nursing minimum data sets. However, several new items and categories of items were also identified, justifying the empirical approach taken to generate the initial list of items. Data from nursing records supported several points raised in focus groups and also highlighted some inconsistencies between nurses’ perceptions and recordings of what they do.
Conclusion. Our research identified several new types of indirect interventions and managing/organizing activities in addition to items found in existing nursing minimum data sets. The importance of these aspects of the nursing contribution to patient care will be tested further in the development of the Irish nursing minimum data set.