Are Australian Cancer and Palliative Care Nurses Ready to Prescribe Medicines? A National Survey

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Objectives: Registered nurse prescribing has been put forth, for decades, as an innovative approach to meet growing healthcare needs, particularly in areas of care where medications are essential and highly controlled such as for patients requiring cancer and palliative care. However, the adoption of innovative health delivery models requires acceptance by key stakeholders. This study explores cancer and palliative care nurses’ attitudes toward nurse prescribing and their perceptions about educational requirements for a nurse prescriber. 

Data Sources: A cross-sectional survey was distributed to Australian nurses between March and July 2021. Data were collected using the Advancing Implementation of Nurse Prescribing in Australia online survey. Pearson χ2 tests were used to examine associations between nurses in cancer care, palliative care, and all other specialties on demographics, attitudes to nurse prescribing, and educational perspectives to become prescribers. Of the 4,424 nurses who participated in the survey, 161 nurses identified they worked in cancer care and 109 in palliative care settings. 

Conclusion: Although nurses have a common set of core capabilities, their work contexts and their professional experiences shape their attitudes toward practice. Nurses in cancer care were significantly less certain than nurses in palliative care [χ2(2) = 6.68, P = .04], and nurses from all other specialties [χ2(2) =13.87, P = <.01] of the benefits of nurse prescribing (ie, nurse prescribing would decrease health care system costs, reduce patient risk). Nurses in cancer care were more certain that successfully implementing nurse prescribing requires strong support from their medical and pharmacy colleagues. In addition, nurses working in cancer and palliative care agreed that improving patient care was their primary motivator for becoming a prescriber. 

Implications for Nursing Practice: Open to expanding their role and responsibilities, nurses in cancer and palliative care settings reported that successfully adopting nurse prescribing must be supported by their other healthcare colleagues within the same environment, which demands strong interprofessional collaborative efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151578
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Oncology Nursing
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Cancer care
  • National survey
  • Nonmedical prescribing
  • Nurse prescribing
  • Palliative care


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