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Beyond Clinical Trials: Extending the Role of the Clinical Research Nurse into Social Care and Homeless Research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Elizabeth Biswell, Michael Clark, Michela Tinelli, Jill Manthorpe, Joanne Neale, Martin Whiteford, Michelle Cornes

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Accepted/In press24 May 2021
Published24 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research Programme (Project Reference: 13/156/10). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.



    FINAL_PROOF.pdf, 353 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:25 May 2021

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


Aim: Clinical research nurses work at the fulcrum of clinical trials with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In England, the National Institute for Health Research (the main funder of health research) has broadened its scope to encompass social care research. The expectation is that clinical research nurses will expand their skill set to support these new studies, many of which will employ qualitative and mixed methods. This discussion paper explores the challenges of facilitating this clinical-academic workforce development through a case study of a homeless health and social care research project. This was one of the first studies to engage clinical research nurses in this new and expanded role.
Background: Much of what is known about the research nurse workforce has been generated through studies of clinical trials in oncology. The ‘caring-recruiting’ dichotomy has been used as a heuristic device for identifying workforce issues that can impact on study delivery such as how intense pressure to recruit study participants leads to low job satisfaction.
Design: This case study reflects on the authors’ experiences of employing a clinical research nurse in a social care research project concerned with the discharge of homeless people from hospital. The ‘caring-recruiting’ dichotomy is used to generate new information about the relationship between workforce development and the successful delivery of social care research.
Conclusion: The case study illuminates how social care research can generate different pressures and ethical challenges for research nurses. The time and skill it took to recruit study participants identified as ‘hard to reach’ was suggestive of the need to move beyond performance measures that prioritise recruitment metrics. The need for different types of staff supervision and training was also warranted as supporting study participants who were homeless was often distressing, leading to professional boundary issues.
Relevance to workforce development: This study highlights that performance management, training and supervisory arrangements must be tailored to the characteristics of each new study coming onto the portfolio to ensure research nurses are fully supported in this new and expanded role.

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