Background EULAR recommendations for the role of nurse aim at guaranteeing a certain standard of care for people with rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and at optimising the use of nursing competencies . In the Netherlands, these recommendations seem well implemented. There are specialised nurses (SNs); nurses trained at a secondary vocational or Bachelor level, followed by a one-year educational program in rheumatology, and nurse practitioners (NPs), trained on a Master Level. SNs provide information, education and (psychosocial) support, but also monitoring of disease, supervised by a rheumatologist. NPs are trained and legally authorised to provide integral medical (e.g. prescribing) and nursing care independently. Informal discussions among rheumatology nurses suggest a variation in roles, and tasks of SNs and NPs, and of care organisation in rheumatology practices.
Objectives The objective of this study was to explore current roles and tasks of SNs and NPs, and care organisation in order to visualise potential variation.
Methods A web-based questionnaire, based on literature  and existing task descriptions was disseminated among all members of the Dutch Nurses Association, unit Rheumatology (n=257). The questions were in closed-ended, multiple choice, likert-scales and open-ended format as appropriate. Data were analysed descriptively. Subgroup analyses were carried out for SNs and NPs.
Results In total 84 nurses, 75 SNs and 9 NPs responded. Characteristics, roles and main tasks are presented in Table 1.The majority of the SNs, 96.4%, and 100% of the NPs work at the outpatient clinic, providing individual face-to-face consultations or telephone support.
Conclusions Differences in roles, tasks and available time for consultations visualise variation in care organisation and in the content of rheumatology nursing care, also within the SN and NP group respectively. Further research on these differences is necessary but they show inequity of care for people with RMDs in the Netherlands and also suggests suboptimal use of nursing competencies.
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Acknowledgements Funded by Dutch Rheumatology Nurses Association, unit Rheumatology.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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