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Keywords:

  • case study;
  • consultations;
  • dermatology;
  • interviews;
  • nurse prescribing;
  • specialist nurses;
  • triangulation

Abstract

Title. Nurse prescriber–patient consultations: a case study in dermatology.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study exploring the content and processes in consultations between nurse prescribers and patients with dermatological conditions.

Background.  Communication skills, consultation time, information and follow-up are central to the treatment and management of patients with dermatological conditions. The contribution nurses make to the care of these patients has great potential.

Method.  A multiple case study was conducted with 10 practice settings across England in which nurses prescribed medicines for patients with dermatological conditions. Data were collected between June 2006 and September 2007 using semi-structured interviews (n = 40), patient questionnaires (n = 165/200) and videotaped observations of nurse consultations (n = 40). Data analysis included thematic analysis, descriptive statistics, chi-square and non-parametric tests.

Findings.  Nurses believed that their holistic approach to assessment, combined with their prescribing knowledge, improved prescribing decisions. Listening and explanation of treatments were aspects of nurse communication that were rated highly by patients. Listening and dealing sensitively with emotions were also aspects of the videotaped consultations that were rated highly by assessors. Nurses were less consistent in providing information about medicines.

Conclusion.  Triangulated data from this study suggest that nurse prescribing enhances the care of patients with dermatological conditions through improved prescribing decisions. If patients are to be more involved in this decision-making, nurses must give them more information about their medicines. The benefits of prescribing were most evident in the practices of dermatology specialist nurses. Further evidence is required to identify whether prescribing by specialist nurses offers similar benefits in other therapeutic areas.