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Healthcare professionals' perspectives on enrolled nurses, practical nurses and other second-level nursing roles: A systematic review and thematic synthesis.

Lucas, G. ORCID: 0000-0001-5941-5233, Daniel, D., Thomas, T., Brook, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8867-0150, Brown, J. and Salmon, D. ORCID: 0000-0003-2562-2116 (2021). Healthcare professionals' perspectives on enrolled nurses, practical nurses and other second-level nursing roles: A systematic review and thematic synthesis.. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 115(103844), doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2020.103844


BACKGROUND: Significant workforce shortages and economic pressures have led to the expanded scope and reintroduction of new roles for second-level nurses in many Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Given this, there is a need to understand the emic and etic perspectives of second-level nurses, to ensure collaborative teamwork and safe patient care.

OBJECTIVE: This review aimed to systematically identify, appraise, and synthesize qualitative research evidence on healthcare professionals' perspectives on second-level nursing roles in the healthcare workforce. These findings inform recommendations that would influence the development and implementation of these roles in healthcare organisations.

DESIGN: A systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative research was conducted. Six databases were systematically searched and forward and backwards searching completed. Included studies focused on healthcare professionals' perspectives (including views of second-level nurses themselves) on second-level nursing roles. All included articles were from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist for qualitative research was used to assess the evidence quality. The results section of each included article was coded and descriptive themes were developed. An interpretative and iterative process led to the final analytic themes.

FINDINGS: Twenty-six qualitative studies were identified from five countries over 26 years. Four analytic themes were identified: undifferentiated role; efficient but limited; subordinated task-doers; and broadening scope and strengthened identity. The synthesis demonstrated dichotomies wherein some second-level nursing roles were devalued, and others had increasing scope and responsibility. Role and boundary confusion was evident and had not decreased over time. Hierarchies in nursing practice underlined the split between critical thinking and hands-on approaches to care which, in some cases, debased the second-level nursing role because of its association with practical hands-on care.

CONCLUSIONS: The analytic themes in this synthesis suggest that second-level nurses have faced the same issues over decades with little change. Perceptions of second-level nursing roles are primarily influenced by meso (organisational level) factors and micro (individual, behavioural) factors. The synthesis concludes that a cultural shift in valuing the hands-on care provided by second-level nursing is necessary, along with systems-level shift that clarifies the role of second-level nursing within healthcare teams to enhance collaborative practice. Further research should attend to macro-level influences on perceptions of second-level nurses, the work they do, and how this is valued or institutionally embedded. Tweetable abstract: Healthcare professionals' perspectives on second-level nursing roles: a systematic review and thematic synthesis.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Meta-synthesis; Nurses by role; Nursing role; Practical nurses; Scope of nursing practice; Systematic review
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Nursing
School of Health Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2021 10:03
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 6 December 2021 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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