Research and Evidence-Based Practice

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CHAPTER 3 Research and Evidence-Based Practice By changing nothing, we hang on to what we understand, even if it is the bars of our own jail. —John LeCarre Competencies 1 Explain the basis for research and knowledge development in nursing. 2 Describe the steps in the research process. 3 Explain the responsibilities of the researcher in guarding the rights of research par- ticipants and others who assist in the research study. 4 Identify the various applications of nursing research in nursing practice. 5 Describe how evidence-based practice is used to guide clinical decision making. 6 Discuss the trends occurring in health care that will influence the priorities for nursing research.
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48 Unit I Nursing’s Perspective: Past, Present, and Future KEY TERMS abstract concepts conceptual framework conceptualization construct dependent variable evidence-based practice full disclosure hypothesis independent variable informed consent nursing research primary source qualitative analysis qualitative research quantitative research recontextualizing research research design secondary source theory value variable code of ethics, technical expertise, professional stan- dards, altruistic service, and public trust. The main characteristics of a profession are established, special- ized training in a body of abstract knowledge and a col- lectivity of service orientation. The science of nursing knowledge is established by the same systematic, investigative process used by all science-based disciplines, the research process. Research is a systematic method of exploring, describ- ing, explaining, relating, or establishing the existence of a phenomenon, the factors that cause changes in the phenomenon, and how the phenomenon influences other phenomena. Nursing practice activities are sub- stantiated as predicting valid and reliable outcomes for clients (the individual, family, group, or community) only after a body of knowledge has been established and confirmed by numerous research efforts. Historical Development Nursing research is aligned with the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. Nightingale “believed that through observation, nurses could best determine care for patients. This early emphasis on systematic observation, as opposed to a trial-and-error approach in providing patient care, planted the seeds for the evolu- tion of nursing science—a unique body of nursing knowledge” (Brockopp & Hastings-Tolsma, 2003, p. 5). The groundwork established by Nightingale for using research to direct client care was not sustained by sub- sequent nursing leaders because of two forces that had a direct impact on nursing’s future. First, societal norms basically excluded women from becoming scientists; therefore, initiating or participating in scientific discov- ery (research) was not an option for women. The second force dealt with the “training” as opposed to the “educa- tion” of nurses. In 1923 Teacher’s College at Columbus University offered the first educational doctoral program for nurses. The first master’s of nursing degree was offered at Yale University in 1929. The placement of nursing education in the university setting is credited to three key studies that addressed educational reform in nursing: the Nutting report, 1912; the Goldmark report, 1923; and the Burgess report, 1926. In 1932 the Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing (ACSN) was organized to promote the conduct of research to improve education and practice. The ACSN established the first research journal in nursing, Nursing Research, in 1952. Research activities during the 1940s and early 1950s focused on the organization and delivery of nurs- ing services: staffing patterns; nursing personnel and This chapter explores the scientific foundation on which the knowledge base of the profession has been and is being built. Nursing research is a “scientific process that validates and refines existing knowledge and generates new knowledge that directly and indirectly influences nursing practice” (Burns & Grove, 2001, p. 4). Evidence-based practice is using the best evi- dence available to guide clinical decision making. The identification of the knowledge base for nursing practice contributes to achieving client outcomes and making nursing practice credible. The emphasis on quality care based on evidence and research is an increasing focus in all areas of health care. The challenge to nurses is to determine the interrelatedness of nursing research to evidence-based practice: Does a solid research base exist that will provide evidence of the nursing actions that are effective in promoting positive patient outcomes? Research: Substantiating the Science of Nursing Nursing is a profession characterized by educational standards, autonomy, socialization, an established knowledge base, licensure, formal entry examinations,
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Chapter 3 Research and Evidence-Based Practice 49 patient satisfaction; and patient classification systems. Care delivery systems such as comprehensive care, home care, and progressive care were evaluated. Results of these evaluations laid the foundation for the develop- ment of self-study manuals that were the precursors of today’s quality assurance manuals. The American Nurses Association (ANA) con- tributed to the advancement of nursing research. In 1950 the ANA sponsored a 5-year study on nursing functions and activities; the findings were reported in a document entitled Twenty Thousand Nurses Tell Their Story. This study benchmarked the development of ANA statements on functions, standards, and qualifications for profes- sional nurses in 1959. Concurrently clinical research began expanding as nursing specialty groups developed standards of care. Nursing research in the late 1950s and early 1960s focused on the effective educational preparation of pro- fessional nurses. One outcome was the development of a 2-year associate degree nursing program in the junior college setting by Montag. During this era several orga- nizations were established that furthered nursing research by either promoting, expanding, or disseminat- ing study findings: the Institute for Research and Service in Nursing Education at Teacher’s College, 1952; the American Nurse’s Foundation, 1955; ANA Committee on Research and Studies, 1956; Department of Nursing Research, Walter Reed Army Hospital, 1957; Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB), 1957; Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), 1957; and the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), 1957. The Nursing Research journal was established in 1952 to communicate nurses’ research and scholarly activity. During the late 1960s and 1970s the nursing pro- fession initiated many scholarly endeavors: the devel- opment of conceptual models and theories; clinical studies on quality care, primary patient care, and the nursing process; educational studies that evaluated teaching methods and student learning experiences; and the first Nursing Diagnosis Conference in 1973. The ANA established the Commission on Nursing Education in 1970 and the Council of Nurse Researchers in 1972. As enrollments in graduate nursing programs increased at both the master’s and doctoral levels, the dissemina- tion of research findings was an issue in the 1970s. Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society in nursing, was founded in 1922 and began publishing Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship in 1967 to com- municate research findings. The society’s purpose is to advance scholarship in nursing by promoting the conduct, communication, and utilization of research in nursing. The movement of the 1980s and 1990s focused on clinical nursing research as many nurses obtained master’s and doctoral degrees, and postdoctoral edu- cation was encouraged for nurse researchers. The number of nursing research journals increased during the 1970s and 1980s to include journals such as Research in Nursing and Health, Advances in Nursing Science, Applied Nursing Research, and Nursing Science Quarterly. Federal involvement in nursing research dates back to 1946 with the establishment of the Division of Nursing within the Office of the Surgeon General. In 1955, the first extramural nursing research program was established in the Research Grants and Fellowship Branch of the Division of Nursing Resources, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Nursing Research Section within the Division of Research Grants to conduct scientific review in the field of nursing. The impetus for establishing the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) came from the findings of two federal studies: 1. The 1983 report by the Institute of Medicine recom- mending that nursing research be included in the mainstream of biomedical and behavioral science 2. The 1984 NIH Task Force study found that nursing research activities to be relevant to the NIH mission In 1986 these findings led to legislative action that estab- lished the National Center for Nursing Research (NCNR) at NIH. The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 was signed into law and changed the NCNR to the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). The NINR (2003) supports clinical and basic research to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span, and may include families within a community context. According to its mandate, the Institute seeks to understand and ease the symptoms of acute and chronic illness, to prevent or delay the onset of disease or disability or slow its pro- gression, to find effective approaches to achieving and sustaining good health, and to improve the clinical set- tings in which care is provided. Research involves clini- cal care in a variety of settings including the community and home in addition to more traditional health care sites. Panels of nurse researchers convene to develop research priorities for the NINR; see the accompanying display on the five NINR research themes for 2003. All of the research themes address: ethnic and cultural sen- sitivities; family and community considerations; a multi- disciplinary approach to research; biological and behavioral mechanisms and their interrelationships; the clinical setting in which care is provided; and the cost- effectiveness of research interventions.
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50 Unit I Nursing’s Perspective: Past, Present, and Future THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NURSING RESEARCH THEMES FOR 2003 1. Changing Lifestyle Behaviors for Better Health 2. Managing the Effects of Chronic Illness to Improve Quality of Life 3. Identifying Effective Strategies to Reduce Health Disparities 4. Harnessing Advanced Technologies to Serve Human Needs 5. Enhancing the End-of-Life Experience for Patients and Their Families Source: National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). (2003). NINR research themes for the future. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/ninr/NINR/2003. Nurse researchers can use one of two broad approaches to gather and analyze scientific information: Quantitative research: The systematic collection of numerical information, often under conditions of considerable control, and the analysis of the infor- mation using statistical procedures Qualitative research: The systematic collection and analysis of more subjective narrative materials, using procedures in which there tends to be a mini- mum of researcher-imposed control. (Polit, Beck, & Hungler, 2001, p. 26) See Table 3-1 for a comparison of the major characteris- tics of quantitative and qualitative research. The scientific method requires an exact, orderly, and objective approach of acquiring knowledge. Controlled methods are used to study problems and test the hypothesis (statement of an asserted relationship between two or more variables). A variable is anything that may differ from the norm. The two types of variables are independent and dependent. The independent variable (criterion variable) is that variable that is believed to cause or influence the dependent variable, which is the outcome variable of interest and is the variable that is hypothesized to depend on or be caused by or predicted by the inde- pendent variable (Polit, Beck, & Hungler, 2001). For example, if the question reads to what extent does age predict recovery from surgical anesthesia relative to when perioperative instructions were first given, the indepen- dent variable is age and the dependent variable is recovery from surgical anesthesia relative to when peri- operative instructions were first given. Value is the variation of the variable. The values of the indepen- dent variable are actual ages of surgical clients, and the values of the dependent variable are when instructions were first given. There are multiple ways in which nurses establish the sources and the realm of knowledge about nursing, human responses, diagnoses, and treatments. Burns and Grove (2001) describe how nursing has historically acquired knowledge: Traditions: basing practice on customs and past trends Authority: crediting another person as the source of information Borrowing: using knowledge from other disciplines to guide nursing practice Trial and error: using unknown outcomes in a situa- tion of uncertainty Personal experience: gaining knowledge by being per- sonally involved in an event, situation, or circumstance Framework Knowledge gained from both nursing research and practice is necessary to support the predictable outcomes of nursing care. Research used in nursing comes from nursing as well as other disciplines such as psychology, education, sociol- ogy, biology, and anthropology. Nursing research explores the many pathways through which scientific and practical knowledge regarding nursing care is established. Research Process The person conducting the research is called researcher, investigator, or scientist. When a researcher poses a prob- lem or answers a question using the scientific approach, it is called a study, an investigation, or a research project. The people who are being studied are called subjects or study participants. Scientific research is mainly concerned with vehicles of thought defined as concepts. The process of develop- ing and refining concepts is referred to as conceptual- ization. A construct is an abstraction or mental representation inferred from situations, events, or behav- iors. Constructs are different from concepts in that the constructs are deliberately invented (or constructed) by researchers for a specific scientific purpose. These con- cepts or constructs are ideas that formulate a theory (a set of concepts and propositions that provide an orderly way to view phenomena). “In a theory, concepts (or con- structs) are knitted together into an orderly system to explain the way in which our world and the people in it function” (Polit, Beck, & Hungler, 2001, p. 22).
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Chapter 3 Research and Evidence-Based Practice 51 Table 3-1 Major Characteristics: Quantitative and Qualitative Research Quantitative Research Hard science Purpose: test theory Focus: concise and narrow Reasoning: deductive Design: reductionist Data collection: control; instruments Basic element of analysis: numbers; statistical analysis Reporting of findings: generalization; objective; formal style Qualitative Research Soft science Purpose: develop sensitizing concepts, create theory Focus: complete and broad Reasoning: inductive Design: holistic Data collection: shared interpretation; communication and observation Basic element of analysis: words; individual interpretation Reporting of findings: uniqueness; subjective; rich narrative; expressive language Source: Adapted from Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (2001). The practice of nursing research (4th ed.) Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders; Dempsey, P., & Dempsey A. (2000). Using nursing research: Process, critical evaluation and utilization (5th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott. Role modeling and mentorship: imitating the behav- iors of an exemplar Intuition: being guided by a feeling or sense that cannot be logically explained Reasoning: processing and organizing ideas in order to reach conclusions Research: validating and refining existing knowledge and generating new knowledge Carper (1978, 1992) describes four fundamental patterns of knowing: Empirical: using research to explain, describe, and predict Ethical: extending knowledge of valuing, clarifying, and advocating Personal: encountering and focusing on self and others Esthetics: interpreting, engaging, and envisioning clues to knowledge The research process is based on sequential, interre- lated steps; see the accompanying display on the steps in the research process. Once the researcher has developed the conceptual framework, the research literature is reviewed to provide a foundation on which to base new knowledge. In select- ing a research design, the researcher determines the methods to be used to address the research question and test the hypothesis, the specific population to be studied, and how the data will be collected; see the accompanying display on types of research design. Clearly, the contemporary thought on knowledge gen- eration incorporates a variety of sources of data collection, STEPS IN THE RESEARCH PROCESS Formulating a research question or problem Defining the purpose of the study Reviewing relevant literature Developing a conceptual framework (struc- ture that links global concepts together to form a unified whole) Developing research objectives, questions, and hypotheses Defining research variables Selecting a research design (overall plan used to conduct the research; see the accom- panying display for types of research design) Defining the population, sample, and setting Conducting a pilot study Collecting data Analyzing data Communicating research findings, their impli- cations, and the limitations of the study each with its own strengths and weaknesses. However, knowledge in nursing is developed and used most effec- tively through the combination of nursing theory, research, and practice. Following data collection, the researcher subjects the data to analysis in an orderly fashion so that pat- terns and relationships can be discerned. Qualitative analysis involves “four types of intellectual processes:
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52 Unit I Nursing’s Perspective: Past, Present, and Future TYPES OF RESEARCH DESIGN Historical: Systematic investigation of a past event using relevant sources to describe or explain the event Exploratory: Preliminary investigation designed to develop or refine hypotheses or to test the data collection methods Evaluative: Systematic investigation of how well a program, practice, or policy is working Descriptive: Investigations that have as their main objective the accurate portrayal of the characteristics of persons, groups, or situa- tions and the frequency with which certain phenomena occur Experimental: Research studies in which the investigator controls (manipulates) the independent variable and randomly assigns subjects to different conditions Quasi-experimental: Studies that deviate from the methods of the experimental compo- nent in that subjects cannot be randomly assigned to treatment conditions even though the researcher manipulates the independent variable and exercises certain controls to enhance the internal validity of the results Source: Adapted from Polit, D. F., & Hungler, B. P. (2001). Nursing research: Principles and methods (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott. REFLECTIVE THINKING Ways of Knowing Nurses use scientific and “other ways of knowing” to measure the effectiveness of nursing interventions. Name and describe three “other ways of know- ing” that you use in your personal life to solve problems. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method you use? How can “other ways of knowing” be used by nurses to measure the client’s situation or the outcome of the nursing activity applied to the situation? comprehending, synthesizing, theorizing, and recon- textualizing (exploration of the developed theory in terms of its applicability to other settings or groups)” (Polit, Beck, & Hungler, 2001, p. 400) whereas quanti- tative information is usually analyzed through statistical procedures. If the data support the research hypothesis, the findings are reported in a straightforward fashion; however, if the results fail to support the hypothesis, the researcher must explain the possible reasons for this failure, for example, problems with the research method (use of inappropriate tools for data collection). The research findings can be communicated in various forms such as dissertations and journal articles. Usually, research reports discuss how the findings can be incorporated into the practice of nursing. established clinical experience and expertise. A nurse scientist is an RN with a strong clinical background who has also been educated at the doctoral level to conduct research. However, nurses participate as consumers and critics of research by conducting the important work of translating, applying, and evaluating the new knowledge with clients and systems. Nurses also participate on research teams or with research protocols to plan, apply, collect data, and evaluate the process. Each of these roles (nurse scientist, principal inves- tigator, research team member, research consumer, and advocate for research clients) offers a substantial contri- bution to the process of scientific knowledge develop- ment in nursing and health care. Interdisciplinary experiences can further enrich the nurse’s understanding of the concept or phenomenon and add to the research team’s perspective of the research project. Rights During the research design phase of the process, the researcher must determine how to safeguard the rights of the research participants. An important role of the nurse researcher is that of advocate for the clients’ rights during the process; see the accompanying display regarding the human rights that require protection during research. Obtaining informed consent requires that the researcher provide full disclosure (communication of complete information to potential research subjects regarding the nature of the study, the subject’s right to refuse participation, and the likely risks and benefits that would be incurred) (Polit, Beck, & Hungler, 2001). The nature, seriousness, and likelihood of risks (physi- cal, psychological, social, and legal) are explained to the Roles Becoming a nurse researcher requires education and experience in the process of scientific inquiry. That process is then combined with the nurse’s already
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Chapter 3 Research and Evidence-Based Practice 53 PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN RESEARCH Self-determination: The person has the right to control his or her own destiny. Privacy: The person has to determine the time, extent, and general circumstances under which private information will be shared with or withheld from others. Anonymity: Data collected will be kept confidential. Fair treatment: The person should be treated fairly and should receive what he or she is due or owed. Protection from discomfort and harm: Based on the principle of beneficence (one should do good and, above all, do no harm), the person should be protected from physical, emotional, social, and economic discomfort and harm. Informed consent: The person understands the reason for the proposed intervention and its benefits and risks, and agrees to the treat- ment by signing a consent form. Source: Adapted from Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (2001). The practice of nursing research (4th ed.). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders. Nurses have an obligation to collaborate in the research, provided the researcher has followed proper protocols. The researcher must obtain permission from the agency to use its facility as part of the research set- ting. Staff nurses who are expected to participate in the research process must have an adequate understanding of the nature of the study. Likewise, the staff nurse has the right to refuse to participate in the study. Research Utilization Research utilization refers to the use of research findings in practice to improve care. Research utilization occurs at three levels—instrumental, conceptual, and symbolic: 1. Instrumental utilization is the direct, explicit appli- cation of knowledge gained from research to change practice (Gills & Jackson, 2002). 2. Conceptual utilization refers to the use of findings to enhance one’s understanding of a problem or issue in nursing (Gills & Jackson, 2002). 3. Symbolic utilization is the use of evidence to change minds of other people, usually decision makers (Profetto- McGrath, Hesketh, Lang, & Estabrooks, 2003). Instrumental research utilization allows the nurse to change nursing practice, for example, by adopting new nursing interventions, procedures, clinical protocols, or guide- lines. In conceptual research utilization, the nurse uses the knowledge by thinking about a situation, problem, or phenomenon to provide different alternatives and possibilities in nursing situations. With symbolic research utilization, the nurse uses research findings to influence others to make changes in conditions, policies, or practices relevant to nurses and clients, or the health of clients (Profetto-McGrath, Hesketh, Lang, & Estabrooks, 2003); see the accompanying Research Focus. To bridge the gap between nursing research and nursing practice, several research utilization models have been developed to promote quality care. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Regional Program for Nursing Research Development was the first federally funded research uti- lization project. The 6-year WICHE project studied the feasibility of fostering research activities through regional collaborative activities. There are five compo- nents of this model: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Definition of nursing care problem Retrieval of relevant research Critical review of the research Development of research-based plan of care Evaluation of the effects of change REFLECTIVE THINKING Responsibility in Nursing Research What should a nurse do when a risk factor has not been fully explained to a client who has agreed to participate in a study? You are a staff nurse working at a medical center where it is common practice for the nurses to participate in research studies that use investigational drugs. In reading the accompa- nying literature on the investigational drug being used in this particular study, you discover that the risk for infertility has not been addressed in the informed consent. Although you realize that you do not have to participate in the research, what should you do to protect the client’s rights? participants. The researcher must also identify what pre- cautions will be taken to minimize the risks. Protection of subjects requires that the potential benefits outweigh potential risks.
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54 Unit I Nursing’s Perspective: Past, Present, and Future The final report from the WICHE project indicated that the project was successful in increasing research utiliza- tion; however, there were a limited number of scientifi- cally sound, reliable nursing studies with clearly identified implications for nursing care. A 5-year project, awarded to the Michigan Nurses Association by the Division of Nursing in the 1970s, was the Conduct and Utilization of Research in Nursing (CURN). The purpose of this federally funded project was to develop research-based protocols for clinical practice. The five components of the CURN model include: 1. Identification of research studies and establishment of a research base 2. Transformation of findings into research-based protocols 3. Transformation of protocols into specific nursing interventions 4. Clinical trails in the practice setting 5. Evaluation of the research-based practice The CURN project concluded that research utilization by practicing nurses is feasible, but only if it is relevant to practice and the results are broadly disseminated. Over the past decade other utilization projects have been undertaken such as the Iowa model, the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) model, the Dracup-Breu model, the Stetler model, and the Horne model. In the 1990s California developed the Orange County Research Utilization in Nursing (OCRUN) pro- ject to focus on building organizational capacity as a tool for increasing research utilization. Over a 3-year period, nearly 400 nurses participated in continuing education courses that focused on the development of research uti- lization competency (Rutledge & Donaldson, 1995). RESEARCH FOCUS Title of Study “A Study of Critical Thinking and Research Utilization among Nurses.” Author J. Profetto-McGrath, K. Hesketh, S. Lang, and C. Estabrooks Purpose To identify critical thinking dispositions and research utilization habits and their relationships in a con- venience sample of 143 nurses working on two acute-care surgical units and five pediatric units in four tertiary- care hospitals. Methods Using the research design of two previous comparative research utilization studies, the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI) tool was distributed to the 143 nurses to complete on their own time. Seven critical thinking dispositions were measured by the CCTDI: truth-seeking, open-mindedness, analyticity, systematicity, critical thinking self-confidence, inquisitive- ness, and maturity. Barriers to Utilizing Nursing Research Polit, Beck, and Hungler (2001) identify the following barriers to utilizing nursing research: Research itself: inadequate scientific base Practicing nurses: educational preparation with lim- ited exposure to research utilization, and resistance to change Organizational settings: unfavorable organizational climates, and resource constraints Nursing profession: limited communication and col- laboration between practitioners and researchers Gills and Jackson (2002) address the future of research utilization as positive: “Given today’s increasing empha- sis on quality, evidence-based practice, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in health care, it is likely that research utilization will be a major focus of all health professionals in the future” (p. 647). In 1992, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, renamed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), convened a panel of experts to summarize the state-of-the-art research on certain topics and to develop clinical prac- Findings Based on 141 valid responses, the results indicated a significant positive correlation between the total critical thinking disposition score and the overall research utilization. Overall critical thinking disposition correlated significantly with instrumental and conceptual research uti- lization, but not with symbolic research utilization. Implications If the nursing profession is committed to basing practice on research evidence, these findings indi- cate a need to foster critical thinking in both nursing students and practicing nurses. Source: Profetto-McGrath, J., Hesketh, K., Lang, S., & Estabrooks, C. (2003). A study of critical thinking and research utilization among nurses. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 25(3), 322–337.
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Chapter 3 Research and Evidence-Based Practice 55 ABSTRACT CONTENTS Title of the Study Introduction of the Scientific Problem Statement of the problem and purpose Identification of the framework Methodology Design Sample size Identification of data analysis methods Results Major findings Conclusions Implications for nursing Recommendations for further research REFLECTIVE THINKING Nursing Research Research in community health practice is challeng- ing. The variables can be difficult to identify and measure. Consider ways that you might structure your reserach to answer the following. How might you measure the “health” or “well- ness” of your community? You have decided to implement a teaching project on stress management to a group of well older adults. What criteria might you use to measure the effectiveness of your nursing interventions? You are a new occupational health nurse at a local plastics factory. What questions might you ask the employees to better understand their need for and interest in health-promotion topics? tice guidelines. Guidelines have been published on such topics as pain management in infant and chil- dren, prediction and prevention of pressure sores in adults, and identification and treatment of urinary incontinence. These guidelines, which are based on evidence and provide the consumer with information directly related to the clinical practice guidelines, are available at AHRQ’s website. The future of nursing research utilization will require commitment and col- laboration among researchers, practicing nurses, orga- nizations that train and employ nurses, and the leadership of the nursing profession. ology (inclusive of subject population), findings, and con- clusions. Some authors also include implications for fur- ther study within the context of the abstract; see the accompanying display for the major elements in the con- tent of an abstract. During the career of a nurse, many clinical and practice questions will be raised that will require research methods to answer confidently. By pursuing and applying research in the area of choice, nurses acquire valid and reliable information that enables them to provide quality care. Evidenced-Based Practice The goal of client care is to provide quality nursing ser- vices that are effective in promoting health and wellness and alleviating the discomforts of illness. The current status of the health care system (shrinking resources and increasing acute health care needs) challenges nurses to incorporate evidence-based practice (EBP) in order to provide efficacious nursing care and validate client outcomes. “Evidence-based practices are proven ways to diagnose and treat patients based on rigorous scientific evidence and clinical effectiveness stud- ies”(Ling, 2000, p. 81). Although EPB has been empha- sized in medicine for years, nursing is in the initial stages of developing an evidence-based practice. “However, for the goals of evidence-based practice to be met, a culture of practice must be developed in which all clinicians from every discipline are expected to jus- tify their practices from the best evidence currently Nursing Students Accessing nursing research can be a challenge to stu- dents. “Nursing students are often intimidated by the research process” (Morse, Oleson, Duffy, Patek, & Sohr, 1996, p. 148). Nursing students are exposed to research in varying degrees as determined by the pro- gram’s curriculum. Nursing students need to familiarize themselves with a few general terms before they read and analyze research studies. When an article is written by one or more researchers, it is called a primary source. When an author addresses the research of someone else, it is referred to as a secondary source. Research articles usually begin with an abstract, a summary statement that identifies the purpose, method-
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56 Unit I Nursing’s Perspective: Past, Present, and Future available” (Burns & Grove, 2001, p. 296). Nurses must rely on the best evidence available to justify their prac- tice until a solid scientific knowledge base evolves into EBP. Nursing as a profession has always recognized the importance of research as an essential basis for its development. The identification of the knowledge base for nursing practice contributes to achieving client out- comes and making nursing practice credible. Although the terms best practices and evidence-based practice are often used interchangeably, these terms have different meanings. Evidence-based practice can be a best practice, but a best practice is not necessarily evidence-based; best practices are simply ideas and strategies that work, such as programs, services, or interventions that produce positive client outcomes or reduce costs (Ling, 2000). Nurses need to base their clinical practice on empirical evidence to optimize client outcomes, to provide cost-effective safe practice, and to enhance the credibility of nursing care. Nurses draw from their experience by selecting spe- cific nursing interventions that influence client out- comes; however, there is little scientific evidence to support nurses’ clinical decision making and expected outcomes. Early efforts to study client outcomes arose from quality assurance or quality improvement studies with nurse involvement in the development of interdis- ciplinary care plans such as critical pathways and care maps. However, critical pathways and care maps are not necessarily EBPs. According to Burns and Grove: “Outcomes research methods will be an important means to document the effect that nursing practice has on patient outcomes and to build the scientific base for evidence-based practice in nursing” (2001, p. 297). Outcomes studies will allow nurses the opportunity to explain the impact of their care through measures of outcomes of client care that reflect nursing practice. Although nurses are well placed to contribute toward more clinically effective and cost-effective client care, nurses need skills and resources to appraise, synthesize, and implement the best evidence in practice. Benefield (2002) defines EBP as using the best evi- dence available to guide clinical decision making. This definition shifts the provision of health care away from opinion, past practice, and precedent toward a more sci- entific basis. “To use research-based interventions, nurses need to learn how to evaluate research reports, describe the level of evidence that exists on a particular topic, and identify the strength of the association for the research evidence that does exist” (Brockopp & Hastings-Tolsma, 2003, p. 40). Health care providers use evidence reports that have been developed and disseminated by govern- ment programs, such as the AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse that serves as a public resource for evi- dence-based clinical practice guidelines, or private enti- ties like the Cochrane Collaboration. Evidence Reports “Evidence reports include knowledge synthesis, review, and documentation of how evidence-based practices are used in the clinical area, and can include discussion of the clinical relevance and utility of such practices” (Benefield, 2002, p. 803). The evidence report usually contains four distinct parts: statement, analysis, evi- dence, and recommendations; see Figure 3-1. Once the nurse becomes aware of the need for information, EBP requires the development of the question or problem statement that best defines the need. Once the question is defined, the nurse systematically reviews what research has been done on the particular topic. Systematic reviews differ from literature reviews. Systematic reviews use all relevant literature from multiple sources, published and unpublished, and there is a more rigorous and systematic appraisal and evaluation. Following the review and analysis of the systemic data, the nurse must determine what the research demonstrates and decide the level of evidence in order to make recommendations to promote evidence-based prac- tice. A structured research summary statement suc- cinctly describes what the evidence reports. The analysis of the scientific data describes: a review of the various published and unpublished research; the details of the analysis; target populations that were studied; the type of clinical interventions that were investigated; and the strength of individual and collective study results (Benefield, 2002). The level of evidence ranks the Statement or Question Analysis or Systematic Review Evidence Recommendations FIGURE 3-1 Evidence records identify: need for informa- tion, analysis of scientific data, level of evidence, and rec- ommendations for practice.
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