Running nurse-led secondary prevention clinics for coronary heart disease in primary care: qualitative study of health professionals' perspectives

P Murchie, N C Campbell, L D Ritchie, J Thain

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Background A randomised trial of nurse-led secondary prevention clinics for coronary heart disease resulted in improved secondary prevention and significantly lowered all-cause mortality at 4-year follow-up. This qualitative trial was conducted to explore the experience of health professionals that had been involved in running the clinics.

Aim To identify the barriers and facilitators to establishing secondary prevention clinics for coronary heart disease within primary care.

Design of study Semi-structured audiotaped telephone interviews with GPs and nurses involved in running clinics.

Setting A stratified, random sample of 19 urban, suburban, and rural general practices in north-east Scotland.

Method Semi-structured telephone interviews with 19 GPs and 17 practice-based nurses involved in running nurse-led clinics for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.

Results Eight practices had run clinics continuously and 11 had stopped, with eight subsequently restarting. Participants accounted for these patterns by referring to advantages and disadvantages of the clinics in four areas: patient care, development of nursing skills, team working, and infrastructure. Most practitioners perceived benefits for patients from attending secondary prevention clinics, but some, from small rural practices, thought they were unnecessary. The extended role for nurses was welcomed, but was dependent on motivated staff, appropriate training and support. Clinics relied on, and could enhance, team working, however, some doctors were wary of delegating. With regard to infrastructure, staff shortages (especially nurses) and accommodation were as problematic as lack of funds.

Conclusions Nurse-led secondary prevention clinics were viewed positively by most healthcare professionals that had been involved in running them, but barriers to their implementation had led most to stop running them at some point. Lack of space and staff shortages are likely to remain ongoing problems, but improvements in funding training and communication within practices could help clinics to be put into practice and sustained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-528
Number of pages7
JournalThe British Journal of General Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • coronary heart disease
  • primary care
  • secondary prevention

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