Patients’ experiences with the advancedpractice nurse role in Swiss family practices: a qualitative study


Background: Considering shortages of general practitioners (GP) and strategies for improving the quality of health care provision, many countries have implemented interprofessional care models with advanced practice nurses (APN). International evidence suggests that APN care results in high patient satisfaction. In Switzerland, the role is
still new, and the patient perspective has not yet been researched. Our aim was therefore to explore patients’ experiences with the APN role in Swiss family practices.

Methods: We conducted 22 semi-structured interviews in four different family practices with patients aged 18 to 97 suffering from minor acute to multiple chronic diseases, and who had at least one consultation with an APN. All interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Results: The analysis resulted in five themes: Despite the unfamiliarity, all patients were willing to be consulted by an APN because it was recommended by their GP (1); after several encounters, most participants perceived differences between the APN and the GP consultation in terms of the length and style of the consultations as well as the complexity of their tasks (2); the interviewees emphasised coaching, guidance, care coordination, and GP-assisting tasks as APN core competencies and attributed the characteristics empathetic, trustworthy, and competent to the APN role (3); most patients especially valued home visits and the holistic approach of the APNs, but they also noticed that in certain cases GP supervision was required (4); and due to the close collaboration between the APN and the GP, patients felt safe, well cared for and experienced improvements in physical and psychological well-being as well as in daily activities (5).

Conclusion: Our results suggested that patients value the APNs’ competencies, despite their initial lack of role knowledge. Trust in the GP seemed to be the most important factor for patients’ receptiveness toward the APN role. Overall, patients perceived an added value due to the enlargement of the scope of practice offered by APNs. The patient perspective might provide valuable insights for further APN role implementation in Swiss family practices.

BMC Nursing (2020) 19:90