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Brunel Research Highlights Why Patients are Happiest with Nurses Care

In the first observational study of its kind in the UK, a Brunel University academic has examined the treatment advice given by GPs and nurse practitioners to similar 'same day' patients with urgent problems in the NHS. The results from Prof. Clive Seale's research clearly demonstrate that nurses offer a more holistic approach to patient care than GPs, explaining why previous research studies have shown that patients are happiest when consulting nurses.

The results also revealed that nurses talked significantly more than doctors about treatments
and that patients spoke more in nurse consultations than when being treated by doctors.

The research findings come at a time when government policy articulates an expanded role for nurses as patients' first point of contact. From April of this year, this has included allowing nurse practitioners clinical autonomy in issuing prescriptions. Many nursing organisations are keen to see the status of such “super nurses“, who will have the same status as other medical consultants, confirmed. This will save precious time and money currently spent on nurses getting prescriptions signed by GPs.

Key findings from Prof. Seale's research include:

 Nurse practitioners' provided more opportunities to discuss how to use treatments and their possible side effects
 Nurse practitioners also recommended a greater number of treatments - ie suggesting cheaper or more convenient alternatives
 A comparison of case study pairs suggested that nurse practitioners demonstrated greater concern with the acceptability and cost of treatments to patients.

Speaking about the studies, Prof. Seale says: “The results reported in the first paper revealed that nurse practitioners spent twice as long with their patients and talked more about how to apply or carry out treatments. The purpose of the second paper therefore was to understand how the content of the talk might be related to satisfaction.“

“At present, economic and health outcome evaluations suggest no significant differences between nurse practitioners and GPs - in that extra things done by the nurses may not necessarily contribute to clinical effectiveness. So the findings of this research should not necessarily be translated into a call for GPs to spend longer with patients in order to increase satisfaction - or of nurse practitioners spending less time with patients to save costs. Rather, we feel practitioners can greatly benefit from these studies so to raise awareness of how things can be done differently in practice settings, and even produce changes by helping clinicians add to their repertoire of skills.“

Prof. Clive Seale from the School of Social Sciences and Law at Brunel University did the two studies in collaboration with researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff *.

The first paper, “Comparison of GP and nurse practitioner consultations: an observational study“ determined what nurse practitioners do with the extra time they spend with patients, and how their consultations differ from those of GPs. The second paper “Treatment advice in primary care: a comparative study of nurse practitioners and general practitioners“, compares in much more detail the content of talk about treatment by practitioners in order to find out how this might be related to patient satisfaction.