Aim Explore practice nurses' (PNs) role in child health and development, and advising parents about child health issues.
Background Introduction of the four-year-old child health check into general practice in 2008 placed additional responsibilities on PNs in child health and wellness. This study explores their readiness to expand their practice into this area.
Design Integrated mixed method design, self-report survey.
Method A purpose-developed questionnaire explored demographics, child health roles and responsibilities, difficulties
encountered, professional development needs, barriers and facilitators, and professional development activities undertaken
in the past year. Surveys were posted to 218 PNs in one rural Division of General Practice (DGP) in Queensland, Australia; 29 responded.
Results PNs reported a significant role in well and sick child care (93.1%) though few had a paediatric/child health background (14.3%). Roles included immunisations (92.3%), child health checks (65.4%), general child health and development (26.9%), asthma (23.1%), feeding (15.4%), fever (11.5%), settling/sleeping (11.5%). PNs were interested in learning more about (81.5%) and incorporating more child health into their practice (81.5%). Professional development in childhood growth and development (80.0%), health and illness (60.0%) and advising new mothers (20.0%) was needed.
Conclusions PNs play a substantial role in child health, are unprepared for the complexities of this role and have preferred
methods for undertaking professional development to address knowledge deficits.
Implications for practice PNs are unprepared for an advanced role in child health and wellness. Significant gaps in their
knowledge to support this role were identified. This ever-expanding role requires close monitoring to ensure knowledge
precedes expectations to practice