Research Output

The Patient Centred Assessment Method for improving nurse-led biopsychosocial assessment of patients with long-term conditions: a feasibility RCT

Annual reviews of people living with long-term conditions (LTCs) are mostly conducted by practice nurses (PNs), who focus on the physical needs of patients. The broader mental well-being and social needs of patients are also important if they are to live well. The Patient Centred Assessment Method (PCAM) is a new tool to help PNs conduct biopsychosocial assessments of patients’ needs.

Research questions
Is it feasible and acceptable to use the PCAM in primary care nurse-led reviews for those with LTCs? Is it feasible and acceptable to run a cluster randomised trial of the PCAM in primary care?

Four practitioner and two patient focus groups explored the acceptability and implementation requirements of the PCAM, which was then tested in a feasibility cluster randomised controlled trial aiming to recruit eight general practitioner (GP) practices and 16 nurses. Baseline data collection was conducted with nurses prior to randomisation, with a cohort of 10 patients per nurse, including patient demographics, patient evaluation of consultation, patient-completed outcomes (measured via the Consultation and Relational Empathy, Patient Enablement Instrument, Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale, General Health Questionnaire and the Short Form questionnaire-12 items) and nurse referrals/signposting to services. Patient follow-up questionnaires were completed at 8 weeks. Practices were then randomised to the PCAM intervention or care as usual (CAU). Data collection was repeated for a second cohort of patients. Fidelity was tested by comparing a sample of recorded consultations before and after PCAM training. Qualitative interviews were conducted with PCAM nurses and a sample of patients.

Approaches to 159 eligible practices resulted in the recruitment of six practices (10 nurses), with five practices (seven nurses) completing both data collection phases. Nurses collected baseline data on 113 patients, 71 of whom (62.8%) completed follow-up questionnaires. Five practices were randomised: three practices (six nurses) to the PCAM arm and two practices (four nurses) to the CAU arm. In phase 2, seven nurses collected data on 77 patients, of whom 40 (52%) completed follow-up. Only four PCAM nurses agreed to recording consultations, with five pre- and four post-PCAM recordings obtained. Post PCAM training, there was evidence of more attention being given to patients’ mental well-being and social issues. The PCAM was fairly easily integrated into consultation, although some nurses reflected that this benefited from early support. Patients were not always aware of its use, but most were happy to have their needs assessed.
Recruitment of GP practices, and nurse recruitment and retention.

The PCAM is feasible and acceptable for use by primary care nurses and may have potential for encouraging biopsychosocial assessment of patients. Efforts required to recruit and retain staff indicate that a full trial is not feasible or cost-effective at this time.

Future work
The PCAM intervention warrants further exploration as an effective mechanism for improving care for people with LTCs; this could be conducted within an implementation study.

Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN98973169.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 January 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    National Institute for Health Research

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    RT Nursing

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    610.73 Nursing

  • Funders:

    National Institute for Health Research


Maxwell, M., Hibberd, C., Aitchison, P., Calveley, E., Pratt, R., Dougall, N., …Cameron, I. (2018). The Patient Centred Assessment Method for improving nurse-led biopsychosocial assessment of patients with long-term conditions: a feasibility RCT. Health Services and Delivery Research, 6(4), 1-120.



Long-term conditions, Patient Centred Assessment Method (PCAM), assessment tools, patient needs,

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