Peters, Sarah, Wearden, Alison, Morriss, Richard, Dowrick, Christopher F., Lovell, Karina, Brooks, Joanna, Cahill, Greg and Chew-Graham, Carolyn (2011) Challenges of nurse delivery of psychological interventions for long-term conditions in primary care: a qualitative exploration of the case of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalitis. Implementation Science, 6 (1). p. 132. ISSN 1748-5908

The evidence-base for a range of psychosocial and behavioural interventions in managing patients with long term conditions (LTCs) is now well-established. With increasing numbers of such patients with such conditions being managed in primary care, and a shortage of specialists in psychology and behavioural management to deliver interventions, such therapeutic interventions are increasingly being delivered by general nurses with limited training in psychological interventions. It is unknown what issues this raises for the nurses or their patients. The purpose of the study was to examine the challenges faced by non-specialist nurses when delivering psychological interventions for a long term condition (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; CFS/ME) within a primary care setting.

A qualitative study nested within a randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN 74156610] explored the experiences and acceptability of two different psychological interventions (pragmatic rehabilitation and supportive listening) from the perspectives of nurses, their supervisors and patients. Exploring data from each perspective provides triangulation, and therefore increased trustworthiness, of the analysis. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 46 patients, three nurse therapists and three supervisors and an iterative approach was used to develop conceptual categories from the dataset.

Analyses reveal four sets of challenges that were common to both interventions: i) Being a novice therapist; ii) engaging patients in the therapeutic model; iii) dealing with emotions and iv) complexity of primary care. Each challenge had the potential to cause tension between therapist and patient. A number of strategies were developed by participants to manage the tensions.

Tensions exist for nurses when attempting to deliver psychological therapy for patients with CFS/ME in a primary care trial which would need to be addressed before implementing within routine clinical practice. Similar tensions may be found for other long term conditions. These have implications for developing therapeutic alliance and highlight the need for regular supervision.

1748-5908-6-132.pdf - Accepted Version

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