Over the last 10-15 years the role of the clinical research nurse (CRN) has evolved, with many CRNs now participating in the design, planning, analysis and dissemination of research. However, from the literature it is evidenced that despite this, CRNs have difficulties in developing a positive working relationship with clinical (ward-based) nurses. Additionally, previous literature identified that liminality, isolation, perceptions of CRNs and issues related to the transition from a clinical nurse to a CRN appeared to be important. However, the experiences of CRN’s have never been fully explored in this context.
How do CRNs make sense of their relationship with clinical nurses?
A qualitative approach, using interpretative phenomenological analysis, was utilised for this research. This approach allowed an exploration of the lived experience of the CRNs interactions with clinical nurses and generated real-life information on their relationships.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten CRNs. The rich data gathered from these informed a deeper understanding of the relationships between CRNs and clinical nurses.
The interviews were transcribed by the researcher and analysed individually. Once this process was completed, the findings were combined to develop over-arching super-ordinate themes. This followed the process suggested by Smith, Flowers and Larkin (2009).
New understanding emerged from this study, including perceptions of harm, particular issues relating to CRNs from clinical research facilities, negative impacts of poor relationships with clinical nurse specialists and how relationships with doctors can impact on how CRNs are perceived. Additionally, theoretical constructs including duality, dramaturgy and injurious misconception were also identified and explored.
The study indicated that CRNs value their relationship with clinical nurses. This relationship assists in conducting successful clinical research and confirming the importance of the CRN role. However, there appear to be some difficulties that should be addressed, to further enhance this relationship for the benefit of patients, CRNs and the clinical nurses.||en