Focus group interviews examining the contribution of intellectual disability clinical nurse specialists in Ireland

O Doody, E Slevin, Laurence Taggart

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Aims and objectives. To explore the contribution of clinical nurse specialists inintellectual disability nursing in Ireland.Background. While clinical nurse specialists exist since the 1940s, they have onlybeen a reality in Ireland since 2001. While the role of clinical nurse specialist hasdeveloped over the years, it still however is often seen as a complex multifacetedrole that causes confusion, frustration and controversy.Design. A exploratory qualitative approach using focus groups with Irish intellectualdisability clinical nurse specialists (n = 31).Methods. Five focus group interviews were conducted to gather qualitative datato gain insight into the attitudes, perceptions and opinions of the participants.Data were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using Burnard’s (Vital Notesfor Nurses: Research for Evidence-Based Practice in Healthcare, 2011, BlackwellPublishing, Oxford) framework. Ethical approval was gained from the researcher’suniversity and access granted by the national council for the professionaldevelopment of nursing/midwifery in Ireland.Results. The study highlights that intellectual disability clinical nurse specialistscontribute to and support care delivery across a range of areas including client focusedand family-centred care, staff support, organisation support, communitysupport and supporting other agencies.Conclusions. Overall, the study shows the importance of intellectual disabilityclinical nurse specialists and their contribution across a range of services, careenvironments and the support they offer to clients/families/staff/multidisciplinaryteam members and outside agencies.Relevance to clinical practice. Ireland is in a unique position to develop knowledgeregarding specialist care for people with intellectual disability that can beshared and adapted by other healthcare professionals in other countries that donot have specialised intellectual disability nurses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2964-2975
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number19-20
Early online date2 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2017


  • intellectual disability
  • focus groups
  • qualitative research


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