A survey of nurse practitioner controlled drugs and substances prescribing in three Canadian provinces

Tammy O’Rourke, Joseph Kirk, Elsie Duff, Richard Golonka

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: In Canada, nurse practitioners (NP) were legally authorised to prescribe controlled drugs and substances (CDS) in 2012. The objective of this study was to understand current NP-CDS prescribing in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada. This study is a component of a larger three-phase survey of NP practice patterns in these same provinces. Background: Nurse practitioners are nurses with a graduate degree who have the legal authority to perform expanded functions in health systems, including prescribing CDS. Given the novelty of CDS prescribing for NPs in Canada, little is known about this component of their role. Design: A secondary analysis of survey data collected between March 2016 and May 2017 was used to examine NP-CDS-prescribing patterns and identify potential associated factors. Methods: Nurse practitioners in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were invited to complete a professional practice pattern survey. The survey was administered through a secure electronic data collection software application (redcap). In the practice pattern survey, 42 variables from 15 distinct conceptual questions were analysed in this study as potential predictors of NP-CDS prescribing within a purposeful selection ordinal logistic regression model. This scientific submission has been assessed for accuracy and completeness using the Equator STROBE guideline criteria (see Appendix S1). Results/Findings: Five variables were found to be associated with an increased odds of more frequent NP-CDS prescribing in addition to three confounders/clinically relevant variables. Factors commonly associated with an increased frequency of NP-CDS prescribing relate to location of practice, area of practice, previous nursing experience, team environments and common diagnoses. Conclusion: Little is known about NP-CDS prescribing. Understanding this important component of the NPs emerging legal scope of professional practice can contribute to the continued refinement of this role as well as support ongoing enquiry into the causes of, and potential interventions to prevent, the present opioid overdose deaths occurring while under an active prescription. Relevance to clinical practice: Understanding factors that influence NP-CDS prescribing has relevance to the current drug-related prescription fatalities crisis in all countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4342-4356
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec. 2019


  • advanced nurse practitioners
  • chronic pain
  • evidence-based practice
  • factor analysis
  • nurse practitioners


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