Date of Submission



Other information: The cardiac catheterisation laboratory (CCL) is a specialised medical radiology facility where both chronic-stable and life-threatening cardiovascular illness is evaluated and treated. Although there are many potential sources of discomfort and distress associated with procedures performed in the CCL, a general anaesthetic is not usually required. For this reason, an anaesthetist is not routinely assigned to the CCL. Instead, to manage pain, discomfort and anxiety during the procedure, nurses administer a combination of sedative and analgesic medications according to direction from the cardiologist performing the procedure. This practice is referred to as nurse-administered procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA). While anecdotal evidence suggested that nurse-administered PSA was commonly used in the CCL, it was clear from the limited information available that current nurse-led PSA administration and monitoring practices varied and that there was contention around some aspects of practice including the type of medications that were suitable to be used and the depth of sedation that could be safely induced without an anaesthetist present. The overall aim of the program of research presented in this thesis was to establish an evidence base for nurse-led sedation practices in the CCL context. A sequential mixed methods design was used over three phases. The objective of the first phase was to appraise the existing evidence for nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. Two studies were conducted. The first study was an integrative review of empirical research studies and clinical practice guidelines focused on nurse-administered PSA in the CCL as well as in other similar procedural settings. This was the first review to systematically appraise the available evidence supporting the use of nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. A major finding was that, overall, nurse-administered PSA in the CCL was generally deemed to be safe.;However, it was concluded from the analysis of the studies and the guidelines that were included in the review, that the management of sedation in the CCL was impacted by a variety of contextual factors including local hospital policy, workforce constraints and cardiologists' preferences for the type of sedation used. The second study in the first phase was conducted to identify a sedation scale that could be used to monitor level of sedation during nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. It involved a structured literature review and psychometric analysis of scale properties. However, only one scale was found that was developed specifically for the CCL, which had not undergone psychometric testing. Several weaknesses were identified in its item structure. Other sedation scales that were identified were developed for the ICU. Although these scales have demonstrated validity and reliability in the ICU, weaknesses in their item structure precluded their use in the CCL. As findings indicated that no existing sedation scale should be applied to practice in the CCL, recommendations for the development and psychometric testing of a new sedation scale were developed. The objective of the second phase of the program of research was to explore current practice. Three studies were conducted in this phase using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The first was a qualitative explorative study of nurses' perceptions of the issues and challenges associated with nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. Major themes emerged from analysis of the qualitative data regarding the lack of access to anaesthetists, the limitations of sedative medications, the barriers to effective patient monitoring and the impact that the increasing complexity of procedures has on patients' sedation requirements. The second study in Phase Two was a cross-sectional survey of nurse-administered PSA practice in Australian and New Zealand CCLs.;This was the first study to quantify the frequency that nurse-administered PSA was used in the CCL setting and to characterise associated nursing practices. It was found that nearly all CCLs utilise nurse-administered PSA (94%). Of note, by characterising nurse-administered PSA in Australian and New Zealand CCLs, several strategies to improve practice, such as setting up protocols for patient monitoring and establishing comprehensive PSA education for CCL nurses, were identified. The third study in Phase Two was a matched case-control study of risk factors for impaired respiratory function during nurse-administered PSA in the CCL setting. Patients with acute illness were found to be nearly twice as likely to experience impaired respiratory function during nurse-administered PSA (OR=1.78; 95%CI=1.19-2.67; p=0.005). These significant findings can now be used to inform prospective studies investigating the effectiveness of interventions for impaired respiratory function during nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. The objective of the third and final phase of the program of research was to develop recommendations for practice. To achieve this objective, a synthesis of findings from the previous phases of the program of research informed a modified Delphi study, which was conducted to develop a set of clinical practice guidelines for nurse-administered PSA in the CCL. The clinical practice guidelines that were developed set current best practice standards for pre-procedural patient assessment and risk screening practices as well as the intra and post-procedural patient monitoring practices that nurses who administer PSA in the CCL should undertake in order to deliver safe, evidence based and consistent care to the many patients who undergo procedures in this setting.;In summary, the mixed methods approach that was used clearly enabled the research objectives to be comprehensively addressed in an informed sequential manner, and, as a consequence, this thesis has generated a substantial amount of new knowledge to inform and support nurse-led sedation practice in the CCL context. However, a limitation of the research to note is that the comprehensive appraisal of the evidence conducted, combined with the guideline development process, highlighted that there were numerous deficiencies in the evidence base. As such, rather than being based on high-level evidence, many of the recommendations for practice were produced by consensus. For this reason, further research is required in order to ascertain which specific practices result in the most optimal patient and health service outcomes. Therefore, along with necessary guideline implementation and evaluation projects, post-doctoral research is planned to follow up on the research gaps identified, which are planned to form part of a continuing program of research in this field.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


273 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences