Confusion exists on the roles and contribution of oncology nurses in the care of cancer clinical trial patients. Quantitative evidence of their roles and contributions is lacking in the literature and job descriptions vary. A study to fill this gap examined the dimensions of nursing practice and evaluated tasks performed by three groups of United States oncology nurses who practice in research settings: direct care providers, study coordinators, and those with a dual role of both coordinator and direct care provider. The study tested a theoretical, five-dimensional model of nursing practice by using the Clinical Research Nurse Role Delineation survey. Nurses were asked to rate the frequency they perform tasks and the importance of those tasks to their role. The frequency and importance scales were analyzed and the results did not support the five-dimensional model of practice. Results revealed two different more multi-dimensional models of oncology research nursing practice: one pertaining to task frequency and one pertaining to task importance. The resulting models provide a high-level overview of two things; 1. What these nurses do (Frequency Domain of Practice- Figure 1) and 2. The relevance of those activities to their role (Importance Domain of Practice- Figure 2).

ANOVA revealed a difference in the groups and post-hoc analysis showed the differences lie between the direct care providers and the coordinators and those with a dual role. Overall, direct patient care providers had similar patterns of frequency and importance scores but the coordinators and dual role nurses had discordance in frequency and importance scores bringing up the issue of role conflict and decreased autonomy. This new knowledge regarding the role of the oncology nurse and dimensions of practice enhances understanding of the nurse’s contribution and also highlights the need for more work to be done in increasing autonomy and control over nursing practice. This study can inform practice by providing theoretical dimensions of practice and also practical information for use in important activities like writing job descriptions or development of competencies.

Date of publication

Summer 9-15-2016

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Sally Northam, Barbara Haas, Sandra Petersen, Clare Hastings


Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

Included in

Nursing Commons