Substituting physicians with nurse practitioners, physician assistants or nurses in nursing homes: protocol for a realist evaluation case study.

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

In developed countries, substituting physicians with nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses (physician substitution) occurs in nursing homes as an answer to the challenges related to the ageing population and the shortage of staff, as well as to guarantee the quality of nursing home care. However, there is great diversity in how physician substitution in nursing homes is modelled and it is unknown how it can best contribute to the quality of healthcare. This study aims to gain insight into how physician substitution is modelled and whether it contributes to perceived quality of healthcare. Second, this study aims to provide insight into the elements of physician substitution that contribute to quality of healthcare.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS

This study will use a multiple-case study design that draws upon realist evaluation principles. The realist evaluation is based on four concepts for explaining and understanding interventions: context, mechanism, outcome and context-mechanism-outcome configuration. The following steps will be taken: (1) developing a theory, (2) conducting seven case studies, (3) analysing outcome patterns after each case and a cross-case analysis at the end and (4) revising the initial theory.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION

The research ethics committee of the region Arnhem Nijmegen in the Netherlands concluded that this study does not fall within the scope of the Dutch Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act (WMO) (registration number 2015/1914). Before the start of the study, the Board of Directors of the nursing home organisations will be informed verbally and by letter and will also be asked for informed consent. In addition, all participants will be informed verbally and by letter and will be asked for informed consent. Findings will be disseminated by publication in a peer-reviewed journal, international and national conferences, national professional associations and policy partners in national government.

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