BMJ open 2017 08 117(8) e015049 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015049
International evidence suggests the diabetes nurse specialist (DNS) has a key role in supporting integrated management of diabetes. We examine whether hospital and community DNS currently support the integration of care, examine regional variation in aspects of the service relevant to the delivery of integrated care and identify barriers to service delivery and areas for improvement.
A cross-sectional survey of hospital and community-based DNS in Ireland.
Between September 2015 and April 2016, a 67-item online survey, comprising closed and open questions on their clinical role, diabetes clinics, multidisciplinary working, and barriers and facilitators to service delivery, was administered to all eligible DNS (n=152) in Ireland. DNS were excluded if they were retired or on maternity leave or extended leave.
The response rate was 66.4% (n=101): 60.6% (n=74) and 89.3% (n=25) among hospital and community DNS, respectively. Most DNS had patients with stable (81.8%) and complicated type 2 diabetes mellitus (89.9%) attending their service. The majority were delivering nurse-led clinics (81.1%). Almost all DNS had a role liaising with (91%), and providing support and education to (95%), other professionals. However, only a third reported that there was local agreement on how their service should operate between the hospital and primary care. Barriers to service delivery that were experienced by DNS included deficits in the availability of specialist staff (allied health professionals, endocrinologists and DNS), insufficient space for clinics, structured education and issues with integration.
Delivering integrated diabetes care through a nurse specialist-led approach requires that wider service issues, including regional disparities in access to specialist resources and formalising agreements and protocols on multidisciplinary working between settings, be explicitly addressed.