Research skills for nurses are foundational to developing evidence-based practice. Practice settings require the application of research findings and their proper analysis. Over the years, and especially now in the digital age, nursing research has become much more important to our profession. Here are some reasons why it’s more important than ever:
- Basing decisions on the synthesis of research findings increases the likelihood of positive patient outcomes. Advance practice nurses (practitioners, midwives, clinical specialists, and anesthetists), nurse administrators, and nurse educators are focused on achieving evidence-based practice. Advanced role nurses know the use of best research evidence is essential for obtaining quality outcomes.
- Our patients are more complex and the environments in which we practice are chaotic at times. Despite these factors, nurses continue to strive to provide high quality care. This care comes through effective research.
- Nursing leaders often stress the importance of having a body of nursing knowledge generated through a variety of research methods (quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, and outcomes) that are addressed in this text. The imperative to base practice decisions on evidence has increased the importance of research within nursing.
- Nurses need to participate in research projects and communicate their findings through presentations and publications. Strong knowledge in the intricacies of research, as well as providing resources and support to facilitate the conduct of research activities, is vital.
- Although research is often seen as irrelevant to many nurses at the bedside and the boardroom, it’s a necessity for hospitals seeking magnet status. The standards for achieving magnet status require a given facility to demonstrate the use of evidence in nursing practice and the implementation of nurse-led studies in the facility. When those nurses enter graduate school, they often are more motivated to actively engage in learning about research to the depth that is needed.
- Students critically appraising quantitative studies need a strong understanding of the steps of the quantitative research process. This knowledge is essential for critically appraising quantitative studies. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the strongest studies for generating research findings for use in practice. Thus, the best research evidence is determined by conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of quality RCTs and other quality experimental and quasi-experiment studies.
- In addition to the knowledge provided by systematic reviews and meta-analyses of quantitative research, the meta-syntheses of qualitative studies and the systematic reviews of mixed methods studies focus on the uniqueness of individuals and groups in different socioeconomic and cultural contexts. Adjusting our practice to this uniqueness is what makes nursing care meaningful to patients and their families.
- In this digital era, the use of online tools reinforces key ideas and assists students in using research skills during their clinical experiences. Students can access different types of studies online to improve their critical appraisal skills.
In the latest edition of Burns & Grove’s The Practice of Nursing Research: Appraisal, Synthesis, and Generation of Evidence, 9th Edition, students can learn how to appraise and apply existing research evidence, as well as how to participate in research and quality improvement projects. Learn more about this title.