Personalizing protocol-driven care: the case of specialist heart failure nurses

Authors

  • Tom Sanders,

    1. Tom Sanders BA MSc PhD Senior Research Fellow Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Primary Care Sciences, Keele University, UK
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  • Stephen Harrison,

    1. Stephen Harrison BA MPhil PhD Professor of Social Policy National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, Division of Primary Care, University of Manchester, UK
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  • Katherine Checkland

    1. Katherine Checkland MBBS MA PhD Walport Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, Division of Primary Care, University of Manchester, UK
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T. Sanders: e-mail: t.sanders@cphc.keele.ac.uk

Abstract

sanders t., harrison s. & checkland k. (2010) Personalizing protocol-driven care: the case of specialist heart failure nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(9), 1937–1945.

Abstract

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to explore how specialist heart failure nurses negotiate treatment advice with patients, in the context of an increasing expectation that clinical staff in the National Health Services will follow guidelines in their daily work.

Background.  The development of specialist nurse roles has given rise to questions about their compatibility with patient-centred care. However, research has revealed little about how specialist nurses balance clinical guidelines with traditional caring tasks.

Methods.  Semi-structured interviews (n = 10) were conducted with specialist heart failure nurses in northern England recruited from a heart failure specialist nursing contact list. In addition, non-participant observations were carried out on nurse-patient consultations (n = 16) in one regional nurse-led heart failure clinic. Data were collected between 2003 and 2005, and analysed using a variation of grounded theory.

Findings.  Heart failure nurses sought to combine traditional caring work with the wider goal of improving patient outcomes by ‘personalizing’ their advice to patients and presenting their heart failure as ‘typical’. They accommodated protocol-driven care into their daily routines, and perceived no disjuncture between evidence-based practice and patient-centredness. However, their approach allowed little space for the exploration of each patient’s own priorities about their illness.

Conclusion.  There is a need both to re-examine the appropriateness of traditional caring concepts, and to reflect on the need to incorporate patients’ own values into the consultation process.

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