Developing Nursing and Midwifery led research is an investment in better care outcomes

Why Nurse & Midwife led research?

Nurses and midwives are the largest health care workforce.  They are the leading providers of care to our community.  Whether in the community or acute sector, nurses and midwives are the frontline of healthcare delivery.

60% of the healthcare workforce

531,000 nurses and midwives in Australia and New Zealand make up approximately 60% of the healthcare workforce

Only 9/200 research grants for nursing and midwifery

Of the 200 grants funded to clinical trials networks between 2004 – 2014, only 9 have gone to nursing and midwifery-specific research

The Facts

Nursing and midwifery-led research has great potential to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities (2)

Many critical health service issues sit in the nursing or midwifery domain, so investing in nursing or midwifery led research is the way to have significant influence.

Nurse and midwife led research has demonstrated:

  • ROI ranging from $202:$1 to $1,206:$1. (3)
  • Reduced short-term death and disability and longer-term mortality from stroke nursing protocols. (4,5)
  • Effective treatment for the relief of labour-related pain with water injections. (6)

In Australia there are 349,589 nurses and midwives compared with 187,597 allied health practitioners and 105,293 medical practitioners (1):

  • For every 1 GP, there are 11 nurses/midwives
  • For every 1 medical specialist, there are 10 nurses/midwives
  • For every 1 physiotherapist, there are 11 nurses/midwives
  • For every 1 psychologist, there are 11 nurses/midwives
  1. Australian Government Department of Health. (2020). Health Workforce Data Tool: Dashboard, Summary Statistics – Metrics.
  2. Borbasi, S., Hawes, C., Wilkes, L., Stewart, M., May, D. Measuring the outputs of Australian nursing research published 1995–2000. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2002;38(5):489-97.
  3. Daniel P. Kiely, Annette B. Wysocki, 2020. Federal funding of nursing research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 1993 to 2017, Nursing Outlook, Volume 68, Issue 3, Pages 270-283.
  4. Middleton S, McElduff P, Ward J, Grimshaw J, Dale S, D’Este C, Drury P, Griffiths R, Cheung NW, Quinn C, Evans M, Cadilhac D, Levi C. Implementation of evidence-based treatment protocols to manage fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing dysfunction in acute stroke improves 90-day outcomes: QASC, a cluster randomised controlled trial. The Lancet 2011; 378(9804): 1699-1706
  5. Middleton S, Coughlan K, Mnatzaganian G, Choy N, Dale, S, Jammali-Blasi A, Levi C, Grimshaw J, Ward J, Cadilhac D, McElduff P, Hiller J, D’Este C. Mortality reduction for fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing nurse-initiated stroke intervention: QASC trial follow-up. Stroke 2017; 48: 1331-1336
  6. Lee, N., Y. Gao, S. L. Collins, L. B. Mårtensson, W. Randall, T. M. Rowe and S. Kildea (2020). “Caesarean delivery rates and analgesia effectiveness following injections of sterile water for back pain in labour: A multicentre, randomised placebo controlled trial.” EClinicalMedicine 25.

The Challenge

Australia and New Zealand’s nurses and midwives are well positioned to lead high quality research that improves healthcare by addressing health service inefficiencies, yet they are underrepresented among nationally funded health researchers.

There is a need for more nursing and midwifery led trials to inform high quality evidence-based nursing and midwifery practice.

Clinical trials networks improve the quality of trials and attract greater research funding, yet there is no financial support from government for the leading Australasian Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Trials Network.

Large scale clinical trials with the potential for high impact are costly to conduct and more resources are needed.

ANMCTN’s Value Proposition

Australia and New Zealand will have a coordinated, nursing and midwifery Clinical Trial Network (CTN) focused on improving patient outcomes, advancing clinical care through contribution to the evidence base and improving the efficiency of the healthcare system.

Nurses and midwives make up the largest healthcare workforce across Australia and New Zealand. Many nurses and midwives are leading research that will have a profound impact on quality care and health outcomes of individuals within their care. These outcomes have the potential to be scaled up across the sector and are informing best practice. However, nurses and midwives are underrepresented in the leadership of large-scale clinical research projects and clinical trials and receive little of the national pool of clinical research funding.

Nursing and midwifery-led research is vital to inform evidence on the effectiveness of treatments, how care delivery can be improved, equipping our future workforce to deliver quality and cost-effective care.