What is the role of the practice nurse in the care of people living with dementia, or cognitive impairment, and their support person(s)? A systematic review

Caroline Gibson, Dianne Goeman, Dimity Pond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The potential value of expanding the Practice Nurse role to include the recognition and management of dementia has been acknowledged. Practice Nurses are well-positioned to provide comprehensive dementia information and support so that people living with dementia are better equipped to self-manage their health and live well with dementia. The purpose of this review was to systematically examine published literature to identify existing and potential roles of Practice Nurse's in the delivery of care to people affected by dementia and to describe the characteristics and effectiveness of nurse interventions in dementia models of care. Methods: The PRISMA statement guided the systematic review of the quantitative and qualitative evidence for roles and characteristics of the Practice Nurse in the delivery of dementia care. A comprehensive literature search of seven electronic databases and Google scholar identified relevant original research published in English between January 2000 and January 2019. Thirteen articles met the inclusion criteria and were extracted into the Covidence software for analysis. Results: The heterogeneity of the included studies purpose, design and outcomes measures and the diversity in health systems and primary care nurses scope of practice made it difficult to synthesise the findings and draw conclusions. The heterogeneity did, however, provide important insights into the characteristics of roles undertaken by nurses working in the general practice setting, which were potentially beneficial to people living with dementia and their support person. These included patient accessibility to the Practice Nurse, early recognition and management of cognitive changes, care management and collaboration with the General Practitioner. Limitations of the provision of dementia care by Practice Nurses included a lack of definition of the role, inadequate dementia specific training, time constraints and poor communication with General Practitioners. Conclusions: Embedding an evidence-based model that describes the role of the Practice Nurse in dementia care provision has the potential to increase early recognition of cognitive impairment and more appropriate primary care management of dementia. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO 2018 CRD42018088191.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
Number of pages18
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2020


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Practice nurse
  • Primary health care nurse

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