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Professional identity and the Clinical Research Nurse: A qualitative study exploring issues having an impact on participant recruitment in research

09 Aug 2017


The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of Clinical Research Nurses, with an emphasis on factors that may have an impact on successful study delivery.


The Clinical Research Nurse workforce is pivotal to improving health outcomes through supporting research-active health economies. Investment in research infrastructure has led to nurses and midwives increasingly undertaking extended roles to deliver clinical research. Despite such opportunities, the recruitment of sufficient participants into research studies remains problematic. A growing body of literature is exploring barriers to successful study delivery, indicating the emergence of a caring-recruiting dichotomy in clinical research staff.


This qualitative study investigates the experiences of Clinical Research Nurses delivering research in the United Kingdom National Health Service.


Four Focus groups (total 19 participants) were conducted in a large North East National Health Service Foundation Trust from November 2015 - February 2016.


Thematic analysis identified perceptions of the role in the wider context of professional identity. Role transition, altered relationships and workload complexity, affected participants’ practice, leading to inconsistency between core clinical values and perceived identities as research delivery staff. A duty of care as patient advocates contrasted elements of the work reflecting that of salespeople. The emotional labour of approaching patients and unease regarding peer perceptions of the Clinical Research Nurse role, affected the positive aspects of research delivery.


Professional-identity and self-concept appear to have an impact on practice in a research delivery role. Further research should explore these issues further, to enlighten the basis on which such feelings are positioned and to work towards practical solutions.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of Advanced Nursing