A global perspective of advanced practice nursing research: A review of systematic reviews

Kelley Kilpatrick, Isabelle Savard, Li-Anne Audet, Gina Constanzo, Mariam Khan, Renée Atallah, Mira Jabbour, Wentao Zhou, Kathy Wheeler, Elissa Ladd, Deborah C. Gray, Colette Henderson, Lori Spies, Heather McGrath, Melanie Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The World Health Organization (WHO) called for the expansion of all nursing roles, including advanced practice nurses (APNs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). A clearer understanding of the impact of these roles will inform global priorities for advanced practice nursing education, research, and policy.
To identify gaps in advanced practice nursing research globally.
Materials and methods:
A review of systematic reviews was conducted. We searched CINAHL, EMBASE, Global Health, HealthStar, PubMed, Medline, Cochrane Library Database of Systematic Reviews and Controlled Trials Register, DARE, Joanna Briggs Institute EBP, and Web of Science from January 2011 onwards, with no restrictions on jurisdiction or language. Grey literature and hand searches of reference lists were undertaken. Review quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP). Study selection, data extraction and CASP assessments were done independently by two reviewers. We extracted study characteristics, country and outcome data. Data were summarized using narrative synthesis.
We screened 5840 articles and retained 117 systematic reviews, representing 38 countries. Most CASP criteria were met. However, study selection by two reviewers was done inconsistently and language and geographical restrictions were applied. We found highly consistent evidence that APN, NP and CNS care was equal or superior to the comparator (e.g., physicians) for 29 indicator categories across a wide range of clinical settings, patient populations and acuity levels. Mixed findings were noted for quality of life, consultations, costs, emergency room visits, and health care service delivery where some studies favoured the control groups. No indicator consistently favoured the control group. There is emerging research related to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
There is a large body of advanced practice nursing research globally, but several WHO regions are underrepresented. Identified research gaps include AI, interprofessional team functioning, workload, and patients and families as partners in healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 May 2024

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