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To describe the role, contribution and value of research nurses in New Zealand community-based or primary health care research.
Research nurses are increasingly recognised as having a key role in undertaking successful research in hospitals and clinical trial units however only limited work has been undertaken to examine their role in community-based research. Undertaking health research in the community has unique challenges particularly in relation to research design and recruitment and retention of participants.
We describe four community-based research projects involving research nurses, each with particular recruitment, retention and logistical problems. Vignettes are used to illustrate the role, contribution and value of research nurses in a diverse range of community research projects.
The knowledge and skills used by research nurses in these projects included familiarity with communities, cultural competence, health care systems and practice philosophies and in particular with vulnerable populations. Their research actions and activities include competence with a broad range of research methodologies, organisational efficiency, family-centred approach, along with advocacy and flexibility. These are underpinned by nursing knowledge and clinical expertise contributing to an ability to work autonomously. These four projects demonstrate that research nurses in community-based research possess specific attributes which facilitate successful study development, implementation and outcome.
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