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Keywords:

  • Prescribing;
  • research;
  • legislation;
  • nurse practitioners;
  • mental health;
  • practice models;
  • prisoners

Purpose: In Australia, nurse practitioner (NP) services are a relatively new development with little being known about the prescribing practices of Australian NPs. The aim of this study was to conduct the first national study of Australian NP prescribing practices.

Data sources: Focus groups were conducted to inform construction of an electronic survey that was available for all NPs and NP candidates across Australia to complete.

Conclusions: Seventy-two percent of authorized NPs and 39% of NP candidates reported that their practice involved prescribing pharmaceutical agents. Of those respondents who did prescribe during the course of their practice, 59% (n = 29) of the authorized NPs and 64% (n = 16) of the NP candidates reported that they usually prescribe at least once a day. The results from this study suggest that fewer Australian NPs prescribe than do NPs in the United States, and those who do prescribe do so less frequently.

Implications for practice: The current health policy framework in Australia while creating space for the role of the NP is restricting the role's utility and potential contribution to the health care of Australians.