Evid Based Nurs 1:4-6 doi:10.1136/ebn.1.1.4

Nursing, research, and the evidence

  1. Anne Mulhall, MSc, PhD
  1. Independent Training and Research Consultant West Cottage, Hook Hill Lane Woking, Surrey GU22 0PT, UK

      Nursing, research, and the evidence

      Why has research-based practice become so important and why is everyone talking about evidence-based health care? But most importantly, how is nursing best placed to maximise the benefits which evidence-based care can bring?

      Research has been used to legitimise nursing as a profession, education has been radically reformed to reflect a research base, and academic nurses have built their careers around it. However, despite the length of time that research has been on the agenda and the influential bodies involved, only a moderate proportion of nurses use research as a basis for practice.1 What has gone wrong?

      Part of the difficulty is that although nurses perceive research positively,2 they either cannot access the information, or cannot judge the value of the studies which they find.3 This journal has evolved as a direct response to the dilemma of practitioners who want to use research, but are thwarted by overwhelming clinical demands, an ever burgeoning research literature, and for many, a lack of skills in critical appraisal. Evidence-Based Nursing should therefore be exceptionally useful, and its target audience of practitioners is a refreshing move in the right direction. The worlds of researchers and practitioners have been separated by seemingly impenetrable barriers for too long.4

      Tiptoeing in the wake of the movement for evidence-based medicine, however, we must ensure that evidence-based nursing attends to what is important for nursing. Part of the difficulty that practitioners face relates to the ambiguity which research, and particularly “scientific” research, has within nursing. Ambiguous, because we need to be clear as to what nursing is, and what nurses do before we can identify the types of evidence needed to improve the effectiveness of patient care. Then we can explore the type of questions which practitioners need answers to and what sort of research …

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