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Barriers to EBN

Back Nursing Research

"Nurses have come a long way in a few short decades. In the past our attention focused on physical, mental, and emotional healing. Now we talk of healing your life, healing the environment, and healing the planet"

-Lynn Keegan, 1994

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(From Barriers to and facilitators of research utilization in perioperative nursing practice)

Absence of published research on specific clinical issues. 

  • Published research may have limitations (eg, sample size, design) that restrict the ability to generalize results to clinical practice settings. 
  • Nurses may lack experience reading and critiquing research reports and may have difficulty interpreting study designs and statistical findings. 
  • These factors are compounded by the fact that many research projects--especially theses and  dissertations--never are published or presented, making their findings inaccessible to staff nurses. 
  • Investigators may not approach research from a clinical perspective

  • Use of research jargon makes it difficult for staff nurses to understand or interpret study results.
  • Published research may have few clinical applications
  • Staff nurses may not read nursing research journals. 
  • Research reports most often are presented to audiences of researchers; therefore, pertinent clinical findings may not reach nurses who can use these new ideas in patient care. 
  • Traditional nursing education and administration philosophies

  • Entry-level nursing programs place varying degrees of importance on research and research utilization.
  • Many of today's experienced staff nurses did not study research during their basic nursing programs and have not had opportunities to do so through continuing education programs.
  • Only since the late 1970s have most nursing baccalaureate programs have begun including specific research content in their curricula.
  • Even today, few associate degree nursing programs provide research content. 

  • Administrative barriers (eg, lack of time, money, clinical resources) that thwart research utilization activities. 

  • Nurse administrators may not value or recognize the importance of research-based practice, and clinical environments may not sanction research utilization. 
  • Limited access to experts who are knowledgeable about research methods 
  • Practice settings and academia may not collaborate on research efforts, and limited library resources may affect staff nurses' ability to find research to use in their practices. 

  • Lack of questioning. This lack of questioning contributes to research problems not being identified. 

  • Traditions in nursing are accepted as fact. And questioning traditions may not be regarded highly in clinical settings that offer few incentives for nurses to use research. 
  • Not all nursing textbooks acknowledge existing research or discuss how opinion guides nursing practice.
  • Nurses may not value research utilization or understand how it differs from actually conducting research. 

  • The most crucial factor in facilitating research utilization is the identification of clinically relevant problems and issues.
  • Other facilitating factors include environments in which individuals are committed to critical thinking and to the research utilization process. 
  • Nursing administrators who provide adequate resources (eg, personnel, money, time) help promote research utilization. 
  • Staff nurses in these environments benefit from having increased understanding of research and research utilization.
  • Nurse administrators facilitate research utilization when they clearly communicate to staff nurses the value of research utilization and provide incentives.
  • Negotiating linkages between practice settings and academia, nurse administrators can support collaboration between novice and expert researchers. 
  • Nurse administrators can work with medical librarians to facilitate staff nurses' access to the nursing literature by negotiating flexible library hours and computerized literature searches using the Internet. 

  • Nurses in each clinical setting must identify barriers and facilitators to research  utilization. 
  • What barriers or facilitators exist in your clinical setting? 
  • Does your organization value research and encourage research utilization? 
  • Are people willing to help you use research findings in your practice? 
  • Are resources available to facilitate your use of research findings? 
  • Are your colleagues willing to try new clinical practice ideas? 

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