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Why are nurses reluctant to undertake research in practice?

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 48, PAGE NO: 33

Judith Tanner, MPhil, BN, RN, is lead for nursing research, Southern Derbyshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Claire Hale, PhD, BA, RN, RNT, is Dame Kathleen Raven professor of clinical nursing, University of Leeds.

Judith Tanner, MPhil, BN, RN, is lead for nursing research, Southern Derbyshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Research suggests that the barriers preventing nurses from undertaking their own research include a lack of time, confidence, motivation, support and knowledge, as well as low staffing levels and negative attitudes to research (Hicks, 1995; Hundley et al, 2000). But the findings came from nurses who do not undertake research. We felt it would be useful to find out if nurses who undertake research perceive the barriers differently.

A secondary aim was to see whether the characteristics of the nurses in the sample who carry out research differed from the views that nurses who do not perform research had of them.

The stereotype suggests that nurses who carry out research are more motivated, ambitious and academic, have no clinical credibility, and have no family commitments (Hundley et al, 2000).

Eleven nurses who perform research were recruited from one NHS trust. Interviews and rating scales were used to explore their attitudes to the barriers to research that had been identified through earlier studies.

These nurses perceived fewer barriers to research than did nurses in other studies. The barriers they perceived were staffing levels, cost and lack of support, all of which were outside of their control. However, they were not deterred and overcame them to persevere with their research. The nurses deemed 'a lack of time to undertake research' to be an excuse.

The characteristics of the nurses who perform research conformed to some, but not all, of the aspects of the stereotype. They had higher academic qualifications than the nurses not involved in research, but only three had research training. All the nurses were clinically credible and wanted to continue working within clinical practice. Their projects addressed local practice issues and they implemented their findings in practice. Only two of the 11 in the study had children.

The nurses in this study who had research training believed that it had no influence on their research practice. All the nurses claimed that 'facilitators' gave them the confidence to undertake research and publish the results. Facilitators were colleagues based in practice who had successfully undertaken research themselves.

These findings have implications for strategies to increase the number of nurses who undertake research. This study suggests that 'talent spotting' motivated individuals and the use of practice-based research facilitators might help to develop nursing research in practice.

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