DNP Scholarly Projects


Skillfully applied triage techniques can make the difference between rapid, appropriate, cost effective care and poor outcomes at increased cost. While triage has been well documented in emergency departments, military, and natural disasters, it is far less well-understood in the primary care setting. Appropriate, accurate triage and disposition in primary care can improve patient outcomes and reduce unnecessary emergency department visits. This may have an impact on emergency department over-crowding. This exploratory, qualitative, descriptive study examines the triage process of six primary care clinics in Tennessee and Alabama. Interviews with participants were conducted between September and November 2020. Donabedian’s SPO Model was used to organize questions that were posed and the themes which emerged from the data. A total of six caregiver interviews were included. There was no single triage process followed among the staff of the various clinics. Each clinic operated differently and had unique factors contributing to each of their triage processes. The themes that emerged to describe the triage process in primary care were grouped into categories labeled, Structure, Process, or Outcome which are part of the SPO Model. There was a theme that emerged which was labeled, External Factors to include components of the triage process that did not fit into one of the three preexisting categories. The ten themes were personnel, physical location, equipment, patient, training, patient evaluation, decision-making, communication, disposition, and external factors. These themes resulted from data collected across all interviews and describe the important components of triage in these clinics, as a whole. This qualitative study can be used as a foundation to build further research on triage processes in primary care clinics.


Spring 4-15-2021

First Advisor

Dr. Steven Busby

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. Steven Busby

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. Elena Espiritu


Nursing, School of


Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of

Document Type

Scholarly Project


Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Degree Level


Degree Grantor

Belmont University


primary care triage; triage; triage processes in primary care; triaging urgent patients