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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Use of research by staff nurses:organizational support and expectations Varcoe, Colleen Marie


This descriptive correlational study was designed to describe British Columbian staff nurses’ reports of organizational expectations and support for research use, nurses’ own expectations of their use of research, and actual research use by staff nurses. The study was further designed to investigate relationships between nurses’ use of research and their expectations of themselves, their employers’ expectations, and their reports of organizational support for research utilization. The study compared the levels and relationships between these research predictor and outcome variables for groups of diploma and baccalaureate prepared nurses working in hospitals of different sizes. Crane’s (1989) conceptual framework for research utilization guided this study. A stratified random sample (n=450) of nurses with diploma and baccalaureate education was selected from staff nurses working in medical-surgical and critical care areas of hospitals of different sizes in British Columbia. A questionnaire modified from the work of Clarke (1991) was mailed. Responses were obtained from 183 nurses (42%), a sample comprised of 45% diploma educated nurses and 54% baccalaureate educated nurses. The sampling strategy also resulted in representation from hospitals of different sizes which were categorized as small (<250 beds), medium (250-499 beds) and large (>500 beds). The nurses in the sample had very positive attitudes toward research and had high expectations of themselves to use research in practice. There were no differences between educational groups regarding interest in research and expectations, but the baccalaureate nurses held a significantly higher value for research and had more research experience than the diploma nurses. The nurses’ opinions of their organizations varied considerably with organizational size, with the support and expectations for research utilization generally increasing with hospital size. Opinions of the research climate were generally low and the number of infrastructures reported per hospital was low. The staff nurses believed that nursing department value for research was reasonably high, but not as high as the nurses’ own value for research using the same scale. The staff nurses reported that the head nurse and director expectations to use research were fairly high, but not as high as the nurses’ own expectations. The nurses reported moderate levels of general use of research and of use of specific fmdings, indicating that their practice was not predominantly research-based. There were no differences in research use between educational levels or between nurses from hospitals of different sizes. General use of research was correlated with all of the nurses’ individual characteristics and change factors (r=O.41-O.51) but was not correlated with any of the organizational characteristics or change factors. In contrast, the use of specific fmdings had a significant positive correlation with the organizational change factor of research climate (r=O.33) and the number of research-related infrastructures (r=O.31), but was not correlated with any of the individual characteristics or change factors. There was a low significant correlation between the general use of research and use of specific findings (r=O.38). Although the organizational factors varied by hospital size and correlated with the use of specific findings, the use of specific findings did not vary by hospital size. The relationships between the organizational and individual factors and research utilization outcomes were generally as predicted, providing support for Crane’s conceptual framework. The study suggests that nursing practice is not predominantly research-based and that organizational factors influence the use of specific research. The study offers understanding of factors influencing research use that may serve as the basis for strategies that build on nurses’ positive attitudes and values for research and modify organizational barriers to research-based practice.

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