Neutral to positive views on the consequences of nurse prescribing: Results of a national survey among registered nurses, nurse specialists and physicians

Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Apr;51(4):539-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Aug 29.


Background: Over the last two decades, the number of countries where nurses are legally permitted to prescribe medication has grown considerably. A lack of peer support and/or objections by physicians can act as factors hampering nurse prescribing. Earlier research suggests that physicians are generally less supportive and more concerned about nurse prescribing than nurses are. However, direct comparisons between doctors' and nurses' views are scarce and are often based on small sample sizes.

Objectives: To gain insight into the views of Dutch registered nurses (RNs), nurse specialists (with a master's in Advanced Nursing Practice) and physicians on the consequences of nurse prescribing.

Design: Survey study.

Participants: Survey questionnaires were sent to national samples of RNs, nurse specialists and physicians.

Methods: The questionnaire addressed, among others, respondents' general views on the consequences of nurse prescribing for the quality of care, the nursing and medical professions, and the relationship between the medical and nursing professions.

Results: The net response rate was 66.0% for RNs (n=617), 28.3% for nurse specialists (n=375) and 33.7% for physicians (n=265). It was found that all groups agreed that nurse prescribing benefits nurses' daily practice and the nursing profession. There were few concerns about negative consequences for physicians' practice and the medical profession. Nurse specialists gave significantly (P<0.05) more positive scores on most items than RNs and physicians. We found relatively little difference in views between RNs and physicians. It was only on issues surrounding the quality of care and patient safety that doctors showed more concerns, albeit mild, than RNs and nurse specialists.

Conclusions: RNs, nurse specialists and physicians generally hold neutral to moderately positive views on nurse prescribing. This is beneficial for the implementation and potential success of nurse prescribing in practice, as a lack of peer support and/or objections from physicians can be a hampering factor. However, concerns about the consequences of nurse prescribing for the quality of care and patient safety remain a point for attention, especially among physicians.

Keywords: Drug prescriptions; Nurses; Physicians; Physician–nurse relations; Professional autonomy; Professional practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Netherlands
  • Nursing Staff*
  • Physicians*
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses'*
  • Specialties, Nursing*