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To what extent do home care nurses feel free to assess the care that is needed for their patients? nationwide survey in the Netherlands

Brabers, A.A.E.M., Groot, K. de, Groenewegen, P.P.P., Jong, J.D. de. To what extent do home care nurses feel free to assess the care that is needed for their patients? nationwide survey in the Netherlands Health Science Reports: 2021, 4(4), e420
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Background and Aims
Patients receiving nursing care at home require a needs assessment. There are indications that practice variation exists in needs assessments performed by Dutch home care nurses. One possible cause is that nurses are differentially influenced by others when performing needs assessments. Instruments recommending what is appropriate care have the potential to protect nurses against unwarranted influences. In the Netherlands, a framework exists including general norms about performing needs assessments. We aimed to achieve insight into whether nurses, who have heard of the framework, feel more free to assess the care that is needed for their patients, and whether other actors play a role in performing needs assessments.

Methods
An online questionnaire was sent to members of the Dutch Nursing Staff Panel (response 47%; n = 302) in November 2019. Only nurses who perform needs assessments were included in the analyses (n = 141). χ2-tests were used to assess the relationships between the variables of having heard of the framework, feeling free to assess the care that is needed, and the influences of others.

Results
We found no relationships between having heard of the framework and feeling free to assess the care that is needed for patients or reporting influence of others. However, home care nurses who state that they are not influenced by others, feel more free to assess the care that is needed for their patients. In contrast, those who state that they are influenced by informal caregivers, or health care insurers, feel less free to assess the care that is needed.

Conclusion
It appears that the framework for performing needs assessments does not, in its current form, protect against influences of others. Further research is recommended to examine what kind of instruments nurses need to perform unambiguous and good needs assessments and, as such, reduce unwarranted practice variation.
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