Nurses provide care comparable to that of doctors for resolving health problems of low complexity

A new study has found that Spanish nurses trained specifically to resolve acute health problems of low complexity provide care of comparable quality to that of general practitioners. Published early online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the findings suggest that nurses may be able to take on some of the care generally provided by physicians.

Mireia Fàbregas, MD, of the Institut Català de la Salut, in Barcelona, Spain, and her colleagues randomized 1461 who requested same day appointments to see either nurses trained to respond to problems with low complexity or to see . The study was conducted in 38 general practices in Catalonia, Spain, and 142 general practitioners and 155 nurses participated. The investigators measured how well patients' symptoms resolved and how satisfied patients were two weeks after the visit.

The investigators found that nurses successfully solved 86.3% of the cases. The health problem that nurses solved with greatest ease was burns, followed by injuries and . Nurses were less successful at resolving , acute mild upper respiratory symptoms, and urinary discomfort. "This lower resolution could be explained by the fact that these problems require more complex that are not usual in a nurse's daily work," said Dr. Fàbregas. Patients who saw nurses were equally satisfied with their visit as those who saw doctors. When patients were asked about their preferences regarding which professional they would like to visit if a similar health problem arose again, more than 40% of patients in each group expressed indifference.

"This study could help to reduce resistance to change in both physicians and nurses, as well as in the general population, generating confidence in the care provided by nurses," said Dr. Fàbregas. She and her co-authors noted that having nurses solve acute diseases of low complexity could help improve overall health care efficiency.

More information: "A randomised controlled trial of nurses versus doctors in the resolution of acute disease of low complexity in primary care." Begoña Iglesias, MD, Francisca Ramos, MD, Beatriz Serrano, MD, Mireia Fabregas, MD, Carmen Sanchez, BSc, RN, Maria Jose Garcia MD, Helia Marta Cebrian, BSc, RN, Rosa Aragones, MD, Josep Casajuana, MD, Neus Esgueva, BSc, RN. Journal of Advanced Nursing; Published Online: March 21, 2013 (DOI: 10.1111/jan.12120).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Calling nurses to exercise as role models for their patients

Aug 30, 2011

Nurses, just like many of their patients, struggle to find time and motivation to exercise. But a new study may give these all-important caregivers some additional pressure and responsibility: nurses' attitudes can influence ...

To keep nurses, improve their work environments

Dec 08, 2011

Nurses working in hospitals around the world are reporting they are burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs, reported researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy ...

Bullying threatens nurses' health and careers

Mar 20, 2008

In workplaces where nurses are bullied, the quality of patient care declines, the health of nurses suffers, and the retention of quality nurses becomes difficult. A new article published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, ...

Recommended for you

Patient-centered medical homes reduce costs

35 minutes ago

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH), introduced in 2007, is a model of health care that emphasizes personal relationships, team delivery of care, coordination across specialties and care settings, quality ...

New mums still excessively sleepy after four months

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—New mums are being urged to be cautious about returning to work too quickly, after a QUT study found one in two were still excessively sleepy four months after giving birth.

It's time to address the health of men around the world

2 hours ago

All over the world, men die younger than women and do worse on a host of health indicators, yet policy makers rarely focus on this "men's health gap" or adopt programs aimed at addressing it, according to an international ...

User comments