OBJECTIVES: RA should be treated to target in a process of shared decision-making with patients. Person-centred care is essential to meeting specific patient needs. Nurse-led clinics, where a nurse is responsible for care, have demonstrated added value in some countries but are still not implemented widely. This study aimed to explore stakeholders' perceptions of advantages, disadvantages and conditions for the implementation of nurse-led clinics for RA in Belgium.
METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional qualitative study consisting of five semi-structured focus group interviews. Rheumatology nurses, patients with RA and rheumatologists were interviewed as stakeholders. The analysis was carried out by three researchers according to the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven (QUAGOL), formulating a conceptual framework of overarching themes and deconstructing this into perceived advantages, disadvantages and conditions.
RESULTS: Two focus groups with nurses (total n = 16), two with patients (n = 17) and one with rheumatologists (n = 9) were conducted. The interview synthesis resulted in five overarching themes across stakeholders: efficiency of care, disease management, legal and organizational requirements, the conventional role of the nurse and the extended role of the nurse. All stakeholders perceived additional education for nurses as essential, but rheumatologists debated nurses' abilities to lead a rheumatology clinic. Furthermore, patients preferred care protocols to guide nurses, and care providers approached this reluctantly. Generally, patients with a well-controlled disease were perceived as the ideal candidates for nurse-led care.
CONCLUSION: Nurse-led clinics could provide many benefits but require additional nurse education and a legal and organizational framework before being implemented widely and successfully.