Specialist nurses’ perceptions of inviting patients to participate in clinical research studies: a qualitative descriptive study of barriers and facilitators
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Background Increasing the number of patients participating in research studies is a current priority in the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. The role of specialist nurses in inviting patients to participate is important, yet little is known about their experiences of doing so. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of barriers and facilitators held by specialist nurses with experience of inviting adult NHS patients to a wide variety of research studies. Methods A cross-sectional qualitative descriptive study was conducted between March and July 2015. Participants were 12 specialist nurses representing 7 different clinical specialties and 7 different NHS Trusts. We collected data using individual semi-structured interviews, and analysed transcripts using the Framework method to inductively gain a descriptive overview of barriers and facilitators. Results Barriers and facilitators were complex and interdependent. Perceptions varied among individuals, however barriers and facilitators centred on five main themes: i) assessing patient suitability, ii) teamwork, iii) valuing research, iv) the invitation process and v) understanding the study. Facilitators to inviting patients to participate in research often stemmed from specialist nurses’ attitudes, skills and experience. Positive research cultures, effective teamwork and strong relationships between research and clinical teams at the local clinical team level were similarly important. Barriers were reported when specialist nurses felt they were providing patients with insufficient information during the invitation process, and when specialist nurses felt they did not understand studies to their satisfaction. Conclusion Our study offers several new insights regarding the role of specialist nurses in recruiting patients for research. It shows that strong local research culture and teamwork overcome some wider organisational and workload barriers reported in previous studies. In addition, and in contrast to common practice, our findings suggest research teams may benefit from individualising study training and invitation procedures to specialist nurses’ preferences and requirements. Findings provide a basis for reflection on practice for specialist nurses, research teams, policymakers, and all with an interest in increasing patient participation in research.