A study exploring the protean responses of nurses transitioning to primary healthcare
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A study exploring the protean responses of nurses transitioning to primary healthcare

Christine Ashley PhD candidate, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Elizabeth Halcomb Professor, primary healthcare nursing, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Angela Brown Head of School, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Background Healthcare systems are faced with changing community health profiles and ageing populations. Together with economic considerations, these factors have influenced the increase in provision of care in primary rather than other healthcare settings. Many nurses are electing to move from acute care to meet demands for a skilled primary healthcare workforce. However, little is reported about these nurses’ experiences of transition.

Aim To describe how role theory provides a theoretical framework to inform the design of a mixed-methods study exploring the transition of acute care nurses to roles in primary health care.

Discussion The paper explores the relevance of role theory and its components as a validated framework for informing the design of the quantitative and qualitative components of the study. The methodology consisted of a national survey of recently transitioned nurses, with questions that explored experiences of nurses in relation to role exit, role entry, role enactment, role ambiguity, role stress, role strain and rites of passage. The qualitative component of the study incorporated semi-structured interviews with selected participants to further explore aspects of the transition.

Conclusion There are few published reports on the value of theoretical frameworks in the design of nursing research. This paper describes one example of the value of selecting an appropriate theoretical framework for a national study of experiences of transition.

Implications for practice Nurses transitioning between clinical settings experience a range of personal and professional challenges. Role theory provides a valuable framework which is applicable to qualitative and quantitative research into these experiences.

Nurse Researcher. 24, 3, 25-30. doi: 10.7748/nr.2017.e1461



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 27 January 2016

Accepted: 03 May 2016

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