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Preliminary piloting and validation of a questionnaire identifying basic clinical skills practised by research nurses

14 February 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 3


Clinical research nurses (CRNs) need to be competent in both clinical and research skills. In the past 10 years there has been increasing focus on developing the research competencies of CRNs. Employers, however, use the nurses' registered status as a proxy measure of clinical competence to perform their duties. The true extent of what clinical skills are practised by CRNs in a large NHS trust is unclear and there is a lack of validated measures to obtain this information. By using a mixed-methods approach of questionnaire and semi-structured interview, we aimed to pilot and validate a questionnaire to identify CRNs' self-reported confidence with clinical skills.

The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) defines the clinical research nurse (CRN) as ‘a nurse who is employed principally to undertake research within the clinical environment’ (UKCRC Sub-committee for Nurses in Clinical Research, 2007: 32). The role was formalised in 1977 when the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) published its guidance on research ethics for CRNs (RCN, 2009: 2). This has led to nurses carrying out their own and others' projects, and undertaking all elements of the research journey, including:

The CRN is not the same as a ‘nurse researcher’; whereas a CRN works on projects related to patient care and treatment, the nurse researcher is generally part of an academic career path allowing the nurse to undertake postgraduate educational qualifications (Jones, 2015).

CRNs play a vital role in the research team, ensuring a study's success, as they are experts in combining patient care with the research process (Mori et al, 2007). A CRN's expertise can include being a:

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