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How to identify and recruit nurses to a survey 14 and 24 years after graduation in a context of scarce data: lessons learnt from the 2012 nurses at work pilot study on nurses' career paths

How to identify and recruit nurses to a survey 14 and 24 years after graduation in a context of scarce data: lessons learnt from the 2012 nurses at work pilot study on nurses' career paths

Bmc Health Services Research 15: 120

Nursing workforce data are scarce in Switzerland, with no active national registry of nurses. The worldwide nursing shortage is also affecting Switzerland, so that evidence-based results of the nurses at work project on career paths and retention are needed as part of the health care system stewardship; nurses at work is a retrospective cohort study of nurses who graduated in Swiss nursing schools in the last 30 years. Results of the pilot study are presented here (process and feasibility). The objectives are (1) to determine the size and structure of the potential target population by approaching two test-cohorts of nursing graduates (1988 and 1998); (2) to test methods of identifying and reaching them 14 and 24 years after graduation; (3) to compute participation rates, and identify recruitment and participation biases. Graduates' names were retrieved from 26 Swiss nursing schools: 488 nurses from the 1988 cohort and 597 from 1998 were invited to complete a web-based questionnaire. Initial updated addresses (n = 278, seed sample) were found using the Swiss Nursing Association member file. In addition, a snowball method was applied for recruitment, where directly-contacted respondents provided additional names of graduate mates or sent them the invitation. The study was further advertized through the main employers, study partners, and a press release. Participation rate was 26.5% (n = 287), higher for the older cohort of 1988 (29.7%, n = 145) than for 1998 (15.6%, n = 93). Additional nurses (n = 363) not belonging to the test cohorts also answered. All schools were represented among respondents. Only 18 respondents (6%) worked outside nursing or not at all. Among respondents, 94% would 'probably' or 'maybe' agree to participate in the main study. The pilot study demonstrated that targeted nurses could be identified and approached. There is an overwhelming interest in the project from them and from policymakers. Recommendations to increase nurses' participation rate for nurses at work include: (1) to open nurses at work recruitment to all nurses in Switzerland, while recreating cohorts post-hoc for relevant analysis; (2) to define a comprehensive communication strategy with special attention to graduate nurses who are harder to reach.

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Accession: 058014118

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PMID: 25889206

DOI: 10.1186/s12913-015-0787-2

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