Community nurses, public and researchers work together to set out research questions

Published: 07 July 2023

Community Nursing is a hugely important part of how health and care services are delivered in this country, but up to now it has had very little research. Most research in how services are delivered is focused on hospital care or primary care.

An initiative by four Senior Nurse Research leaders is aiming to change this and shine a much brighter light on community nursing and how research can inform and strengthen ways of working, patient care and support for Community Nurses.

Part of their approach was to run a JLA Priority Setting Partnership in 2020/2021, which led to a Top 10 of the most important questions for research into Community Nursing. The Priority Setting Partnership was funded by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC). As is the case with many PSPs, the Top 10 priority areas of uncertainty to investigate are broad questions, allowing many research projects to be developed to help answer each one.

Inspired by the Top 10, the ARC committed to continuing to fund the development of the priorities through a series of workshops which brought together community nurses, patients and members of the public, researchers and methodologists to formulate research questions informed by local need.

Workshops were hosted by ARC North East and North Cumbria in Newcastle, ARC Kent, Surrey and Sussex in Canterbury, and ARC Wessex in Southampton and Oxford, and were chaired by Suzannah Kinsella, the JLA Adviser who chaired the original PSP.

Each workshop considered five of the priorities agreed by the PSP and used them to draft specific research questions. The priorities they used from the PSP were:

Priority 1 - How can community nurse teams better meet the complex needs of patients with multiple health conditions?

Priority 2 - How can community nurses promote shared care/self-care amongst patients, and support carers to provide some aspects of care (e.g. changing dressings)?

Priority 3 - How can community nurse teams best contribute to the management of acutely ill patients at home? What difference does this make to hospital admissions?

Priority 9 - What are the stresses on community nurses and what impact does this have on their health and well-being? How can this be improved?

Priority 10 - How can nurses be encouraged to become community nurses and to stay in the profession?

Participants worked together, drawing on the nurses’ frontline working experience, and the experiences of patients and researchers, to write specific questions that were felt to be important each priority area and the geographical area the workshop was held in.

To help with this they reviewed the original survey submissions to the PSP and thought about:

  • What does this question mean to us in this region?
  • Why is it important?
  • What are the research questions that sit within this priority?
  • How could this be researched?

The questions drafted in each workshop will be drawn together and analysed and the hope is that several will be funded for research and workshop participants will carry on being involved as they are taken forward. We all hope that this will help more and better research to happen in community nursing. Great work everyone!

Paula Wray, Senior Manager at the NIHR ARC Oxford and Thames Valley said:

“The ARC Oxford and Thames Valley is committed to supporting the development of locally driven priorities through to research projects and ultimately implementation to address the needs. It is critical that our community nurses and public partners are supported throughout the journey, through the Applied Research Collaboration infrastructure, but that they remain the leads and guide us. We are so grateful for everyone's continued commitment to addressing these priority areas and look forward to following the next steps as we commence the research portion of the work.”

The photos above were taken at the workshops.

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