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Promoting research utilisation in nursing: the role of the individual, organisation, and environment
  1. Joan Royle, RN, MScN,
  2. Jennifer Blythe, PhD, MLS
  1. School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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Evidence-based nursing integrates the best evidence from research with clinical expertise, patient preferences, and existing resources into decision making about the health care of individual patients.1 To practise evidence-based nursing, clinical nurses need effective strategies for extracting relevant information from the many publications that are currently available. The quality of information that nurses demand and how effectively they evaluate and use it for clinical decision making will influence patient outcomes and, ultimately, the part nurses play in the delivery of health care.

The term “information society” was introduced in the 1980s to describe the information explosion precipitated by new technologies.2 Nursing practice is information intensive. Even 10 years ago, Mowry and Korpman estimated that nurses spent 40% of their time on information related tasks.3 The rapid growth of nursing information means that nurses cannot rely on knowledge acquired as students and must constantly update their practice.

Computerisation is simultaneously a major cause of the information explosion and a means of managing it. Already, computer systems enable healthcare professionals to access patient databases, research databases, clinical guidelines, and care protocols. The internet has emerged as a formidable medium for information provision and exchange. The next challenge for the software industry is to devise an effective means of organising the available information so that discriminating users can access it effectively.

In the l980s, when research was finally recognised as an integral part of professional nursing, concern developed about the gap between research and practice. Researchers began to investigate barriers to research utilisation, using a variety of individual and organisational variables to study diffusion of information throughout organisations.4, 5 They also surveyed nurses about their attitudes, …

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