3 years ago

Research nurses in New Zealand intensive care units: A qualitative descriptive study

Diane Mackle, Katherine Nelson

Publication date: Available online 13 November 2018

Source: Australian Critical Care

Author(s): Diane Mackle, Katherine Nelson


This study explored the role of the research nurse in New Zealand (NZ) Level III intensive care units (ICU). Little was known about this role in NZ prior to this study.


To describe the role and responsibilities of NZ ICU research nurses.


A qualitative, descriptive approach, using semi structured interviews was used.


The study was conducted in six Level III ICUs throughout NZ that employed a research nurse. Interviews were conducted with research nurses (n = 11), principal investigators (n = 6) and nurse managers (n = 6), and the findings were triangulated. The views across all ICUs and stakeholders were generally similar, with differences only being in some operational areas. This study found that the primary role of the research nurse was trial management, where they coordinated all elements of trial conduct. Almost half of the research nurses were involved in trial design through their positions on management committees. Research nurses also played a vital role in patient and trial advocacy, and they bridged the knowledge gap by bringing research to staff nurses, patients and their families. The majority of research nurses reported to a nursing line manager, and had an informal accountability to the PI.


The role of NZ ICU research nurses is similar to their international counterparts. This study provides clarity about the research nurse role and showcases their key contribution in ensuring that NZ ICUs undertake high quality research, thus contributing to potential improvements for future patients' outcomes.

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