Many nurses who specialise in telecare are experiencing greater job satisfaction than those who do not, according to the results of a major international survey into the use of IT in nursing.

59% of ‘telenurses’ claimed that they are happier caring for patients over video, e-mail or phone connections than in person. Reasons cited by nurses include being able to work independently and have greater opportunity for interaction with patients, as well as having better hours and being able to learn new skills.

However, some nurses expressed frustration at not having enough technical support, and many said that they preferred having face-to-face contact with their patients.

The 2004 International Telenursing Survey was organised by Janet Grady, chair and principal investigator in the Division of Nursing at Mount Aloysious College, Pennsylvania, the International Council of Nurses and Dr. Loretta Schlachta-Fairchild, President and CEO, iTelehealth Inc.

It defined ‘telenurses’ as any nurse who routinely uses information technology to deliver care over a distance. 

75% of those surveyed called for a professional certification in telenursing, and 89% agreed that telehealth should be included as a matter of course in their nursing education.

The survey predicted that telenursing will continue to grow due to an increasingly aging and chronically ill population, and because of many healthcare organisations undergoing budget cuts.

Telenursing could help solve shortages of nurses, said 75% of those surveyed; both directly by reducing distances and saving travel time, and indirectly by keeping patients out of hospital in the first place.

The survey, sponsored by iTelehealth Inc, covered 36 countries including the UK over a period of four months. Over 1500 nurses were included in the survey, which is carried out every four years. They came from a variety of disciplines such as pediatrics, chronic care and neurology and areas such as consultative care and supervision.

27% of those polled worked within hospitals, 8.9% in call centres such as NHS Direct and 9.7% were community nurses. Ages of respondents ranged from 22 to 84 years.

In the previous survey in 2000, telenurses reported having the same job satisfaction as regular nurses.