CQU-led Nurse and Midwife Navigator report released

31 January 2023

The findings of a CQUniversity-led research project that evaluated a new model of nursing and midwifery in Queensland have been released.

The evaluation of nurses and midwife navigators in Queensland' titled Queensland Health Nurse and Midwife Navigator Evaluation: Detailed final research report was the result of a four-year project conducted by researchers from Australia and New Zealand.

Nurse and Midwife Navigators are a team of senior registered nurses and midwives who navigate the care needs as a vital service for patients with complex health conditions requiring a high degree of comprehensive' clinical care.

Project lead Professor Clare Harvey said the Nursing Guarantee Policy implemented by Queensland's Labor Government in 2016 introduced 400 nurse/midwife navigators to manage the care of patients with complex chronic conditions.

Conducted by a team of multidisciplinary university researchers' the study found that the navigator services achieved positive gains across all hospital measures' whilst also addressing fragmentation within the health system in areas that are not routinely measured.

Six other CQUniversity academics formed part of the research team including Associate Professor Adele Baldwin' Dr Amy-Louise Byrne' Ms Bridget Ferguson' Emeritus Professor Eileen Willis' Professor Jenni Judd and Ms Sandy McLellan.

The project also explored the impact of the services on patients' perceptions of their health and wellbeing' and showed that despite being chronically unwell' the Nurse and Midwife Navigator service had a positive effect on them.

"The evaluation that we conducted between 2018 to 2021' followed a longitudinal' mixed methods research design that included qualitative and quantitative data from participating navigators and navigated patients collected at planned time points across a 48-month period'" Professor Harvey said.

"The evaluation examined the following indicators: hospital avoidance' length of stay' attendance at outpatient appointments' wellbeing for patients with multiple chronic conditions' health literacy' and sustainability including social return on investment across all 16 Hospital and Health Services (HHS)."

Professor Harvey said navigators also worked to reduce other costs that are not directly aligned with improved hospital performance such as reduced patient travel costs and alignment of appointments.

"Particularly where these were across regional locations."

Researchers from other institutions involved in the project included Dr David Brain (Queensland University of Technology)' Dr Brody Heritage (Telethon Kids)' Associate Professor Rachel Forrest and Dr Shona Thompson (Eastern Institute of Technology' NZ)' Adjunct Professor Desley Hegney (University of Adelaide)' Associate Professor Janie Brown and Mr David Heard (Curtin University) and Ms Janine Palmer and Dr Nadine Bishop (Massey University' NZ).

Five PhD students involved in the project have continued to research various elements of the evaluation.

"Their commitment to patient wellbeing was outstanding. We as a team' are humbled by those patients who so readily shared their experiences with us over a 48-month period."