National mixed methods evaluation of the effects of removing legal barriers to full practice authority of Dutch nurse practitioners and physician assistants

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Objective To evaluate the effects of granting legal full practice authority (FPA) to nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) regarding the performance of specified reserved medical procedures and to support governmental decision-making. Design Nationwide mixed methods design with triangulation of quantitative (Pre-post test design) and qualitative data (expert interviews and focus groups). Methods Surveys focused on the performance of the procedures (monthly number, authorisation mode, consultations and procedural time) and legal cross compliance requirements (adherence with protocols, competence). Interviews focused on competence, knowledge, skills, responsibilities, routine behaviour, NP/PA role, acceptance, organisational structure, collaboration, consultation, NP/PA positioning, adherence with protocols and resources. Data collection took place between 2011 and 2015. Results Quantitative data included 1251 NPs, 798 PAs and 504 physicians. Besides, expert interviews with 33 healthcare providers and 28 key stakeholders, and 5 focus groups (31 healthcare providers) were held. After obtaining FPA, the proportion of NPs and PAs performing reserved procedures increased from 77% to 85% and from 86% to 93%, respectively; the proportion of procedures performed on own authority increased from 63% to 76% for NPs and from 67% to 71% for PAs. The mean number of monthly contacts between NPs/PAs and physicians about procedures decreased (from 81 to 49 and from 107 to 54, respectively), as did the mean duration in minutes (from 9.9 to 8.6 and from 8.8 to 7.4, respectively). Utilisation of FPA was dependent on the setting, as scepticism of physicians and medical boards hampered full implementation. Legal cross-compliance requirements were mostly fulfilled. Conclusions Informal practice was legalised. The opportunities to independently perform catheterisations, injections, prescribing, punctures and small surgical procedures were highly used. Care processes were organised more efficiently, services were performed by the most appropriate healthcare provider and conditions were met. This led to the recommendation to continue with FPA.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019962
Number of pages17
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018




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