The association between advanced practice nursing roles and outcomes in adults following cardiac surgery: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Empirical findings have shown significant and non-significant effects of advanced practice nursing roles within postoperative cardiac settings. The inconsistencies of the current literature preclude the identification of a significant effect of advanced practice nursing roles on patient and organizational outcomes.


    1) identify patient and organizational outcomes of advanced practice nursing roles in postoperative cardiac surgery and 2) synthesize the evidence of current roles of advanced practice nurses in postoperative cardiac surgery to provide the best quality of care for patients.


    A systematic review of randomized controlled trials was conducted in six electronic databases, including Medline, CINHAL, Embase, Cochrane Database, Joanna Briggs Database and Web of Science, and the grey literature. Randomized controlled trials published after 1999 were included if they examined advanced practice nursing roles and recruited patients who underwent cardiac surgery. The study selection was performed by two independent reviewers, and consensus was achieved with a third reviewer. Data extraction was conducted by one reviewer and revised by a second reviewer. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed with the Evidence Project risk of bias tool by two independent reviewers and revised by a third reviewer. A narrative synthesis of the available evidence was completed. No meta-analysis technique was attempted because of the high heterogeneity of the included studies.


    Among 4,448 retrieved papers, ten randomized controlled trials and three secondary analyses were included in this review. The methodological quality of the included studies was moderate. All studies included a comparison group and the majority of the studies collected data using a blinded researcher. However, all studies were based on small sample sizes and failed to randomly recruit participants. Five studies implemented nurse practitioner roles and five studies implemented clinical nurse specialist roles. The advanced practice nursing care included health condition management, lifestyle promotion and coping strategies with patients. A total of 22 outcomes were identified, including 13 patient outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms) and nine organizational outcomes (e.g., rehospitalization after discharge). Each outcome was examined in one to five studies. All of the included outcomes were associated with inconsistent findings.


    The findings from existing literature remain inconsistent. The high risk of bias and the small sample sizes could potentially explain the non-significant findings. Avenues for future research should focus on the development of methodologically high-quality studies with larger sample sizes to enhance our understanding of the effectiveness of advanced practice nursing roles.


  • Audet, Li-Anne
  • Paquette, Lysane
  • Bordeleau, Stéphanie
  • Lavoie-Tremblay, Mélanie
  • Kilpatrick, Kelley

publication date

  • October 2021