Working patterns and perceived contribution of prostate cancer clinical nurse specialists: A mixed method investigation
Published on Oct 1, 2009in International Journal of Nursing Studies3.57
· DOI :10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.03.006
Abstract Background Prostate cancer is prevalent worldwide. In England, men living with this malignancy often report unmet psychological, informational, urological and sexual needs. Their experience of care is correspondingly lower than that of other patient groups with cancer. To address this, prostate cancer clinical nurse specialist posts were established across England and Scotland. Their intent was to support men with this form of cancer, enhance symptom management and improve quality of service provision. Objectives The research sought to investigate prostate cancer clinical nurse specialists' roles, determine whom they targeted services at, and determine their work practices and perceived contribution. Design A mixed method multi-site exploratory-descriptive design was employed. Settings Data were collected across four acute NHS Trusts—one in the South of England, one in the Midlands, one in Northern England and one in Scotland, respectively. Participants Participants included 4 prostate cancer clinical nurse specialists, 19 of their clinical colleagues and 40 men they provided care to. Methods Data were collected through nurse specialists' completion of a Diary and Contact Sheets. Interviews were conducted concurrently with the nurses, stakeholders they worked alongside and patients on their caseload. Data were collected between November 2004 and January 2006. Results There was great variation in the qualifications and experience of nurse specialists and in the services they provided. Services ranged from generic support and information provided across the disease trajectory to provision of services to meet specific care needs, e.g. providing nurse-led clinics for erectile dysfunction. Patients and members of the multidisciplinary team welcomed the introduction of nurse specialists but were aware they could become over burdened through their rapidly growing caseloads. Conclusions Variability in services provided by the prostate cancer nurse specialists arose from differences in local demand for nursing services and the skills and experiences of those appointed. Such variability – whilst understandable – has implications for access and equity across patient groups. Further, it can compromise efforts to define clinical nurse specialists' contribution to care, can impede others' expectation of their role, and render their outcomes difficult to evaluate.