CPD articles

Our continuing professional development (CPD) articles are designed to assist with your nursing skills and practice.

Dengue fever

Dengue fever

Nurses involved in travel health should be aware of the signs of dengue fever and what to do

Tracheostomy care in community settings

Tracheostomy care in community settings

Risks associated with tracheostomy cannot be eliminated, but they can be addressed

Continuing professional development: lymphoma in primary care

Continuing professional development: lymphoma in primary care

This article summarises the diagnosis, treatment and long-term consequences of lymphoma

Varicella zoster virus

Understanding the health risks of varicella zoster virus in pregnancy

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a common illness that causes varicella (chickenpox) and shingles. It is prevalent mostly during childhood but there are additional co-morbidities from this disease for a woman and her fetus, if she contracts it during pregnancy. Many developed countries vaccinate children who have not acquired immunity to prevent their developing complicated varicella as adults. Countries that have implemented widespread vaccination have fewer hospital admissions for such complications. The UK does not have a national VZV vaccination programme and there is no strategy for reporting and documenting the incidence of the illness, so it is difficult to determine the potential prevalence of gestational VZV and its associated outcomes. The aim of this article is to provide an understanding of the aetiology of VZV and the potential health risks to unimmune women who may contact it during pregnancy, to advise them about their healthcare choices.

Increasing use of long-acting contraception in primary care

Increasing use of long-acting contraception in primary care

Long-acting, reversible contraception is a safe and effective way to control fertility, enabling women to have the sex life they want without the risk of pregnancy. Nurses working in primary care are important in providing contraception and promoting long-acting methods. Actively reviewing staff’s knowledge about the accessibility and availability of all contraceptive methods and identifying any gaps informs decisions concerning investment in their training and development. Sexual health and the provision of contraception, as well as the promotion of long-acting contraception, can be achieved by embracing social media and technology, not only with the practice population but with staff accessing e-learning and training pathways.


Migraine in primary care: myths, management and medication overuse

This article is aimed at primary care nurses and covers the presentation of migraine across the whole lifespan. It reminds the reader that migraine is a genetic condition, and gives an overview of presentation, phases of migraine attacks, triggers, treatment strategies and situations that may be seen in primary care. It discusses the differences between migraine with and without aura and the importance of accurate diagnosis. Issues pertinent to pregnancy, breastfeeding, contraception, perimenopause and children are discussed, as well as when to scan and when to refer patients with headaches. The article is intended to provide insights into the effects of this diagnosis on adults and children. It also highlights the causes and solutions of the common problem of medication overuse headache.

Managing patients with multimorbidity

Managing patients with multimorbidity

Multimorbidity is becoming an increasing problem with more patients having two or more long-term conditions. This is putting an additional burden on healthcare resources while having a detrimental effect on the quality of patients’ lives. Clinicians need to consider how they can treat this cohort of patients better. This article will discuss the issues and challenges of dealing with multimorbidity and suggest how these patients can best be managed.

Improving outcomes for patients with irritable bowel syndrome in primary care, with specific focus on diet

Improving outcomes for patients with irritable bowel syndrome in primary care, with...

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of gastrointestinal function with symptoms that can include abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea. Many patients report that diet affects symptoms and guidelines identify first- and second-line dietary treatments to improve symptoms. This article discusses recent improvements in standards of care for patients, with an emphasis on diet, and suggests a new approach to treating patients that is clinically effective and reduces costs.


Skin infections

This article outlines the issues involved in assessing and managing people who present with skin infections. Inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and skin lesions are the commonest reason for referral to a specialist, whereas skin infections are commonly seen by generalists ( Schofield et al 2009 ). If the skin’s integrity is damaged, it can become vulnerable to microorganisms, resulting in an infection. Skin infections are common and are often upsetting for people and their families because of the stigma surrounding them – the perception being that the infections are the result of poor hygiene and the person being dirty. As a result, many people with dermatology problems experience negative reactions from others. This article will provide an overview of skin infections commonly seen by nurses working in primary care. It will look at examples of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, focusing on their aetiology, history, clinical findings, diagnosis, treatment and management.


Improving interpretation of spirometry for better diagnosis

Spirometry is the most widely used pulmonary function test. It is useful for identifying obstructive and restrictive ventilatory patterns, and plays an important part in supporting the diagnosis of respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This article focuses on the importance of accurate interpretation of spirometry to improve a diagnosis, and the process of identifying the correct patient, assuring the quality of the spirometry, reporting the results and relating this back to the patient and the clinical history taken.


Insulin safety: avoiding mistakes and reducing risk

Insulin is a powerful glucose-lowering agent which can save lives and have a significant impact on quality of life and morbidity. However, it is a frequent source of medication errors. This article describes the most common causes of mistakes and how to reduce risk when using insulin therapy. It is based around the new insulin safety booklet for people using insulin and for the healthcare professionals who support them.


Skin infestations

Infestations can be found on the skin or cause skin reactions. There are many types of skin infestations, which can often cause embarrassment and anxiety for patients, their family and their carers. This article will provide an overview of skin infestations focusing on head lice and scabies in particular.

How to write a reflective practice case study

As evidence and experience play an important role in underpinning primary healthcare,...

Smoking cessation

The health burden of smoking tobacco is well documented and it is known to kill more than...

Why infection control should be everyone’s responsibility

Infection control is vital in all aspects of health and social care provision. Infection...

A guide to recognising and diagnosing suspected food allergy in children

Food allergy continues to be a public health concern widely reported in developed countries...

Consent to medical treatment of the mature minor: is autonomy achievable?

The philosophy of healthcare is based on autonomy and capacity, autonomy being the patient’s...

Tackling hypertension: what’s new?

The acquisition of accurate and consistent blood pressure measurements is the responsibility...