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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Exploring the role of organizational policies and procedures in promoting research utilization in registered nurses

Janet E Squires1*, Donna Moralejo2 and Sandra M LeFort2

Author Affiliations

1 Knowledge Utilization Studies Program, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 0P2, Canada

2 School of Nursing, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL A1B 3V6, Canada

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Implementation Science 2007, 2:17  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-2-17

Published: 5 June 2007

Abstract

Background

Policies and procedures (P&Ps) have been suggested as one possible strategy for moving research evidence into practice among nursing staff in hospitals. Research in the area of P&Ps is limited, however. This paper explores: 1) nurses' use of eight specific research-based practices (RBPs) and RBP overall, 2) nurses' use and understanding of P&Ps, and 3) the role of P&Ps in promoting research utilization.

Methods

Staff nurses from the eight health regions governing acute care services across the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador completed an anonymous questionnaire regarding their use of eight RBPs and associated P&Ps. Data were also obtained from authorities in six of the eight regions about existing relevant P&Ps. We used descriptive statistics and multivariate regression analysis to assess the relationship between key independent variables and self-reported use of RBP.

Results

Use of the eight RBPs ranged from 7.8% to 88.6%, depending on the practice. Nurses ranked P&P manuals as their number one source of practice knowledge. Most respondents (84.8%) reported that the main reason they consult the P&P manual is to confirm they are practicing according to agency rules. Multivariate regression analysis identified three significant predictors of being a user versus non-user of RBP overall: awareness, awareness by regular use, and persuasion. Six significant predictors of being a consistent versus less consistent user of RBP overall were also identified: perception of P&P existence, unit, nursing experience, personal experience as a source of practice knowledge, number of existing research-based P&Ps, and lack of time as a barrier to consulting P&P manuals.

Conclusion

Findings suggest that nurses use P&Ps to guide their practice. However, the mere existence of P&Ps is not sufficient to translate research into nursing practice. Individual and organizational factors related to nurses' understanding and use of P&Ps also play key roles. Thus, moving research evidence into practice will require careful interplay between the organization and the individual. P&Ps may be the interface through which this occurs.