Aims: This analysis sets out to explore the nature and scope of the concept of practice development.
Background: The last 10 years has seen a growing interest in the development of health care practice. However, the exact nature of practice development remains poorly articulated and nebulous. Literature from nursing, medical, accountancy, social work and counselling is used to identify the critical attributes of the concept.
Data analysis: The analysis uses the techniques developed by Walker & Avant (1995) to collect information on the use of the concept from the literature and to construct cases.
Key issues: Many of the attributes of practice development are shared by other related concepts such as innovation. However, four critical attributes of practice development were identified and illustrated through case construction.
Conclusions: An understanding of the nature and scope of practice development is essential if the role of the Practice Development Nurse is to be evaluated. The critical attributes and empirical referents identified in this analysis provide a framework for both role development and evaluation.