A pilot study of a nurse-led back pain clinic at Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario, Canada, was judged to be a success after the majority of patients claimed they were happy with the assessments carried out. The findings have been published in the December issue of the Journal of Advance Nursing.
Of the patients questioned, 96% were happy with the results of seeing the nurse. The study showed that 74% were happy to see a nurse rather than wait up to a year for a consultation with surgeon, while more than three quarters of those who wanted to see a surgeon said the year-long wait was unacceptable.
During the trial, nurse practitioner Angela Sarro made the same clinical diagnosis as orthopaedic spine surgeons Dr Yoga Raja Rampersaud and Dr Stephen Lewis in 100% of the 117 patients she examined.
Ms Sarro also suggested the same management plans as the surgeons for 95% of the cases.
Angela Sarro said: "Back pain can be very unpleasant and debilitating and 85% of us will experience it at some point in our lives.
"The aim of our study was to see whether a clinic led by a nurse practitioner could speed up the diagnosis and management of patients with certain spinal conditions pre-selected by the surgeons' offices."
The 96 male and 81 female patients involved in the study ranged from 23 to 85 years of age, with an average age of 52.
Patients had to wait 10 to 21 weeks to see the nurse practitioner, with the average wait being 12 weeks. To see a surgeon in a conventional clinic patients need to wait for 10 to 52 weeks.