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Keywords:

  • advanced nursing practice;
  • case study;
  • impact;
  • nurse consultants;
  • outcomes

Abstract

Aim

To develop a framework to evaluate the impact of nurse consultants on patient, professional and organizational outcomes and identify associated indicators of impact.

Background

Since nurse consultants were introduced into the UK in 2000, there has been growing interest in demonstrating their impact, although robust evidence of impact is lacking. Existing frameworks for evaluating the impact of advanced practice roles do not cover the four dimensions of the nurse consultant role sufficiently.

Design

Multiple case study.

Method

Individual case studies of six nurse consultants in England were undertaken between December 2009–October 2010. Each case study involved interviews with the nurse consultant, healthcare staff, managers, patients and carers. Interviews explored participants' perceptions of the impact of the nurse consultant and indicators of actual and/or potential impact. Data were analysed using framework approach.

Findings

Three domains of impact of nurse consultant roles were identified: clinical significance, professional significance and organizational significance. Each domain included three to four indicators of impact. All nurse consultants showed some evidence of impact in all three domains although the primary focus varied across the different nurse consultants. Due to the wide diversity in nurse consultant roles there was little commonality in the specific indicators of impact across all nurse consultants.

Conclusion

The framework for capturing the impact of nurse consultants could be used by researchers and by nurse consultants to demonstrate their impact. Further research is required to assess the suitability of the framework for capturing the impact of other advanced practice roles.