AIMS: This paper is a report of an integrative review of the international literature examining established nurse-led primary healthcare walk-in centres and their outcomes to understand whether they are effective in improving access to primary health care.
BACKGROUND: Reviews of nurse-led primary care walk-in centres have included centres staffed by family physicians and general practitioners. There is a paucity of evidence about walk-in centres staffed solely by nurses.
DATA SOURCES: Studies were identified through an electronic search using the databases Medline, Cinahl and EBSCO from 1990 until July 2010. Papers were included if they examined walk-in centres providing nurse-led primary care for the general community. Only peer reviewed studies published in English were included.
REVIEW METHODS: An integrative approach utilizing Bowling's checklist facilitated a systematic appraisal of studies in regard to clarity of aims, objectives, methods and appropriate analysis of data.
RESULTS: Thirteen publications were categorized into five themes: 'users of walk-in centres', 'quality of care provided at walk-in centres', 'impact on other healthcare providers', 'perceptions of walk-in centres' and 'satisfaction with walk-in centres'.
CONCLUSION: The possibility that walk-in centres create demand highlights the need for clearer evidence of the drivers of demand for health care in walk-in centres. Innovations in healthcare provision need to be matched with adaptation to nursing education to ensure an adequately prepared nursing workforce. Improvement in access to primary healthcare needs to be measured in terms of equity and the capacity this access has to fill identified gaps in primary healthcare provision in the community.
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