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Using research in practice

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Title: Using research in practice

Author: Jacqui Hewitt-Taylor

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan 2011

Reviewer: Stuart Sorensen, trainer and consultant at

What was it like?

This book is a must for any health professional who wants to know more about the principles and practices of good-quality health research. It is easy to read while still equipping the reader to “separate the wheat from the chaff” when assessing and appraising research. It will become an essential part of the professional toolkit for anyone interested in the provision of genuinely evidence-based practice.

Beginning with first principles (”What is research”) the reader is guided step by step, building upon existing and subsequent knowledge throughout, to build a comprehensive and accessible framework for using research in practice.


What were the highlights? 

I particularly appreciated the handy summaries at the end of each chapter, which not only help to make the information ”stick” but can also be used as a helpful aide memoire for future reference. I was also struck by the way the book included some of the simpler but often overlooked practicalities such as ”Boolean” search terms and how to use them. The thorough account of ‘methodology’ and its pitfalls was brilliantly constructed and will be of immense value both to novices and old hands in the field.

Strengths & weaknesses: 

The book is extremely well indexed, allowing the reader to find exactly what they need amid a genuine treasure trove of information. However, as a visual learner myself, I was a little disappointed at the relative lack of diagrams and charts in the appendices. I think more of this would have been useful for many learners, especially those new to research.

I would perhaps have liked to see a little more information about common pitfalls in methodology too such as the impact of ”confounding variables” upon research design.

However, these are minor points in relation to the whole. Overall this is an excellent little book, written with clear understanding and a real eye on the implications of research on practical health care delivery. The wealth of case scenarios throughout help to make the topic come alive and to make what could have been a dry subject, both engaging and absorbing.

Who should read it?

”Using research in practice” will benefit nurses and other healthcare professionals at all levels given the emphasis on evidence-base and the use of research in modern healthcare. It is sufficiently meaty to appeal to experienced nurses and yet remains down to earth enough for students taking their first steps toward professional competence.

From the basic principles of research such as “confirmation bias” to more advanced notions of statistical analysis there really is something for everybody. The section on the practical application of research findings will be particularly valuable for senior clinicians and for those designing and commissioning services.

Practical and well written, it was a pleasure to read with plenty of fascinating insights and a wealth of extremely useful information and practice illustrations.

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