Background Healthcare systems are faced with changing community health profiles and ageing populations. Together with economic considerations, these factors have influenced the increase in provision of care in primary rather than other healthcare settings. Many nurses are electing to move from acute care to meet demands for a skilled primary healthcare workforce. However, little is reported about these nurses’ experiences of transition.
Aim To describe how role theory provides a theoretical framework to inform the design of a mixed-methods study exploring the transition of acute care nurses to roles in primary health care.
Discussion The paper explores the relevance of role theory and its components as a validated framework for informing the design of the quantitative and qualitative components of the study. The methodology consisted of a national survey of recently transitioned nurses, with questions that explored experiences of nurses in relation to role exit, role entry, role enactment, role ambiguity, role stress, role strain and rites of passage. The qualitative component of the study incorporated semi-structured interviews with selected participants to further explore aspects of the transition.