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Level of autonomy of primary care nurse practitioners


  • Alex Bahadori DNP, ARNP-C,

    Doctor of Nursing Practice, Corresponding author
    1. Professional Dermatology Services, Gulf Coast Dermatology, Hudson, Florida
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  • Joyce J. Fitzpatrick PhD, RN, FAAN

    Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor of Nursing
    1. Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
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Alex Bahadori, DNP, ARNP-C, 12482 Everard Dr., Spring Hill, FL 34609.
Tel: 352-556-6228; Fax: 352-684-6578;


Purpose: The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine the level of autonomy of nurse practitioners (NPs) providing care to patients in a primary care setting.

Data sources: Data were collected from 48 primary care NPs (PCNPs) who attended a state clinical conference. The Dempster Practice Behavior Scale (DPBS) was used to measure the autonomy of the NPs.

Conclusions: The total mean score for the DPBS in this study was 127 (SD = 10.25), indicating a very high level of autonomy of the NPs. The Empowerment subscale had the lowest overall mean score, and the Valuation subscale had the highest. There was no statistically significant relationship between level of autonomy and age, years worked as an RN, and years worked as an NP.

Implications for practice: This study provided evidence that PCNPs are highly autonomous professionals and continue to struggle with empowerment. NPs educationally prepared with a better knowledge of legal and political issues will be better suited to influence healthcare reform. NPs, as autonomous professionals, will be more likely to impact and shape future healthcare policy.