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How acceptable are primary health care nurse practitioners to Australian consumers?

      Summary

      International evidence indicates that nurses working in primary care can provide effective care and achieve positive health outcomes for patients similar to that provided by doctors. Nurse practitioners employed in primary health care perform some tasks previously exclusive to the GP role due to their advanced skills, knowledge and training. In November 2010 Medicare provider rights and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme rights were provided for nurse practitioners working in private practice, and in collaboration with a medical practitioner. However, there is limited evidence about how acceptable nurse practitioners are to Australian consumers and what knowledge consumers have of the nurse practitioner role in the delivery of primary health care. The aim of this study was to examine Australian health care consumers’ perceptions of nurse practitioners working in primary health care. This paper reports on the results of seven focus groups (n = 77 participants) conducted around Australia. Focus groups participants were asked how acceptable nurse practitioners are as provides of primary health care. Although there was some confusion about the role of nurse practitioners and how this role differed from other primary health care nurses, participants in the focus groups were very positive about nurse practitioners and would find them acceptable in providing primary health care.

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