The role of inter-professional relationships and support for nurse prescribing in acute and chronic pain


K. Stenner: e-mail:


Title. The role of inter-professional relationships and support for nurse prescribing in acute and chronic pain.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore nurse prescribers’ views on the role of inter-professional relationships and other means of support for nurse prescribing for patients in acute and chronic pain.

Background.  Research indicates that good team relationships are important for supporting nurse prescribing but that poor understanding of the role by other healthcare professionals can act as a barrier. While collaborative working is central to the role of pain nurses, there is a lack of research on the impact of nurse prescribing on inter-professional working or the support needs of these nurses.

Method.  A qualitative approach was adopted using thematic analysis of semi-structured interview data collected during 2006 and 2007. Participants were 26 nurses who prescribed medicines for patients with acute and/or chronic pain.

Findings.  Nurses’ believed that prescribing encouraged collaborative working and sharing of knowledge across professional boundaries and that this helped to broaden understanding of the wider remit of pain management. Collaboration with doctors served a number of functions, including support and continuous learning. Barriers to effective nurse prescribing were a lack of understanding of its role amongst healthcare professionals and inadequate support. Formal support structures, such as regular clinical supervision, were seen as crucial to meeting nurses’ ongoing learning.

Conclusion.  Factors that promote understanding of nurse prescribing and support inter-professional relationships are likely to have a positive impact on the effectiveness of nurse prescribing. A more consistent approach is required within organisations to support nurse prescribing.