• impact;
  • mixed methods;
  • nurse consultants;
  • systematic review

kennedy f., mcdonnell a., gerrish k., howarth a., pollard c. & redman j. (2011) Evaluation of the impact of nurse consultant roles in the United Kingdom: a mixed method systematic literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(4), 721–742.


Aim.  This paper reports a mixed methods systematic review examining the impact of nurse consultant roles in adult healthcare settings, with a view to identifying indicators for demonstrating their impact on patient and professional outcomes.

Background.  Nurse consultants were introduced in England in 2000 with the intention to achieve better outcomes for patients by improving quality and services. Previous studies have investigated the impact of nurse consultants, but attempts to amalgamate this evidence have been methodologically limited. Since these reviews were published, the importance of demonstrating the contribution of nurse consultants has prompted new research. A robust review of the evidence is now required.

Data sources.  A broad search strategy was adapted for eight databases. Grey literature was sought from various sources.

Review methods.  Quantitative and qualitative studies were included. Study quality was assessed using appropriate instruments. Cross-study synthesis combined the quantitative and qualitative findings in relation to the dimensions of impact identified. Measures of impact were mapped against a framework for assessing clinical and professional outcomes.

Results.  Thirty-six studies were included. The findings suggest a largely positive influence of nurse consultants on a range of clinical and professional outcomes, which map onto the proposed framework of impact. However, there was very little robust evidence and the methodological quality of studies was often weak.

Conclusion.  Further robust research is required to explore nurse consultants’ impact on patient and professional outcomes. The proposed framework for assessing impact could be used to guide future research and assist nurse consultants assess their impact.