Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Nursing




School of Nursing and Midwifery




Eckert, M., Kennedy, K., Neylon, K., Rickard, C. M., Keogh, S., Gray, R., ... & Sharplin, G. (2023). A scoping review of nurse‐led randomised controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 32(17-18), 5550-5561.



Background: Nurses comprise the largest portion of the healthcare workforce worldwide. However, nurse representation in the leadership of clinical research and research funding is largely unknown. The Australasian Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Trials Network was established to provide a coordinated network, focussed on building research capacity in nursing and midwifery. To support this work, this scoping review of nurse-led randomised controlled trials was conducted to summarise research activity, as well as highlight future research directions, gaps and resources. Midwife-led trials will be reported elsewhere. Aim: To quantify number, type and quality of nurse-led randomised controlled trials registered between 2000–2021. Design: A scoping review of RCTs. Data Sources: Medline, Emcare and Scopus were searched from 2000 to August 2021. ANZCTR, NHMRC, MRFF and HRC (NZ) registries were searched from inception to July 2021. Review Methods: This review was informed by the JBI scoping review framework using the PRISMA-ScR. Results: Our search yielded 186 nurse-led publications and 279 registered randomised controlled trials. Multiple trials had the same nurse leaders. There were more registrations than publications. Publications were predominantly of high methodological quality; however, there was a reliance on active controls and blinding low. Trial registrations indicate that universities and hospital/healthcare organisations were the major sources of funding, while publications indicate that Governments and the National Health and Medical Research Council were the main funding bodies. Conclusion: A small number of high-quality, large-scale, nationally funded randomised controlled trials were identified, with a larger number of locally funded small trials. There was a disparity between the number of registered trials and those published. Additional infrastructure, funding and career frameworks are needed to enable nurses to design, conduct and publish clinical trials that inform the health system and improve health outcomes. Relevance to Clinical Practice: Research initiated and led by nurses has the potential to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities, and current nurse-led research is of high methodological quality; however, there were very few nurse-led RCTs, conducted by a small pool of nurse researchers. This gap highlights the need for support in the design, conduct and publishing of nurse-led RCTs. Patient or Public Contribution: This is a scoping review; therefore, patient or public contribution is not applicable.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.