Background: The creation of advanced nursing roles in diabetes management, with specific skills such as nurse prescribing, has resulted in nurses taking on roles that have traditionally been associated with doctors.
Objectives: We aimed to examine the effectiveness of nurse-led clinics, in which nurses were involved in prescribing, on haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) among people with type 2 diabetes.
Methods: We systematically searched the literature, Medline, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), EMBASE and Allied Health Literature database guide (CINAHL) databases, to identify randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of nurse prescribers on HbA1c. We focused on randomised controlled trials which compared nurse prescriber interventions with usual care in adults aged 18 years or over with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The main outcome measure was change in HbA1c levels. We performed a random effects model meta-analysis to assess the pooled effect size of the intervention. Studies were divided into two groups according to the role of nurses in the intervention. In one group, the nurses supplemented a team, as an add-on to usual care; in the other group, they worked independently, and were compared directly to a doctor.
Results: Nine RCTs were identified and included in this study. All studies were from developed countries, with a medium risk of bias and a moderate heterogeneity between studies. In the five RCTs in which nurse prescribers supplemented a team, there was no significant difference in change of HbA1c compared to usual care (-0.34 percentage points; 95% CI: -0.71, 0.02). In the four RCTs in which nurses replaced doctors, the outcomes of nurse prescribers were comparable to those of doctors. No data on adverse events were available.
Conclusion: There was no clear evidence of benefit on glycaemic control, when nurses who undertake prescribing work alongside a doctor and other practitioners. However, in those studies in which nurses replaced physicians, the glycaemic control was comparable between nurses and doctors. Therefore, there may be value in providing nurse-led prescribing services where there is limited access to doctor-led services.
Keywords: Glycaemic control; Meta-analysis; Nurse; Prescribing; Type 2 diabetes.
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