Every year, researches are conducted in institutions and the findings are then disseminated through various publications. However, such information is often not utilized, and instead ends up being stored in the journals, drawers or even in the books found in the library, thus not accomplishing the main purpose for which the research was intended. Cavanagh & Tross (2006) indicated that research utilization encourages activities from being innovative to being practical. It is considered important in promoting education, in that, those in educational practices can grow in complexity while their educators become accountable for the learning process.
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Cavanagh & Tross (2006) have suggested that, while nursing as a profession is concerned with applying knowledge to serve people, the challenge faced by the nursing students is using the research methods and knowledge effectively, i.e. in a meaningful way. Utilization of research findings in nursing is successful when the students are in a position to modify their practice in response to the new knowledge impacted on them. According to Parahoo & Mc Caughan (2001), utilization of nursing research findings enables the teacher or the one mentoring the students be in able to prepare and mentor their students effectively.
It also aids the nursing students to be in a position to share their experiences with others who have undergone the same encounters therefore getting a practical solution to their questions. Nursing research findings helps the nursing students in getting help where they feel that the management has neglected them, in not providing them with adequate information. Cavanagh & Tross (2006) stressed that most nursing students undergo hard times while in the trainings, but they fear expressing themselves for fear of being secluded as being lazy or not ready to train; therefore students using research findings (even if done by others) are able to learn by themselves.
Cavanagh & Tross (2006) supports the notion that the research utilization enables the educators to be in a better position to offer quality services to the patients under their care. Utilization enables them to effectively put nursing research findings into practice and therefore, use the knowledge and innovations realized while in the study to handle the patients. Parahoo & Mc Caughan (2001) also indicated that the utilizations reassure the researchers that they are not the only ones to encounter the complexity of conducting researches. They are therefore in a position to use what others have already done on the topic and advance on the findings to arrive at a more practical solution that is beneficial to both nursing student and the patients.
According to Parahoo & Mc Caughan (2001), the health ministries, are aiming to transform findings into a form that is practical to the environment. By doing this, they are likely to build up mechanisms that will evaluate, analyze and make sure that research findings and products are practically utilized. Dissemination of the research findings are usually aimed at three categories, which includes the public health workers and those in the management, policy or decision makers and lastly those working in the clinic (clinic staff). Utilization of research findings is enhanced when those meant to use those findings are in a position to consider which findings are to be disseminated, when and how. Such users should consider the characteristics, interest and enough knowledge for which the research targeted and lastly be in a position to use sound and sustainable findings that will ensure incorporation into practice.
Parahoo & Mc Caughan (2001) insisted that application of research findings should be taken seriously, just like conducting the research itself. He explained that research is incomplete unless the findings are synthesized and applied into practical situations. He further argued that medical research councils, WHO, national center for expertise and professional bodies should work together to enhance the attainment of the goal intended by the research itself. They should ensure that all the researches that are carried out, are analyzed, synthesized and effectively applied in the health ministries and clinics.
According to Parahoo (2000), the spread of scientific knowledge is influenced by socioeconomic, environmental, educational, political and cultural differences amongst those conducting the research. He discovered that application of research work is determined by the attitude of health programmers towards the utilization of research findings and research based knowledge. He suggested that the health practitioners may not be in a position to apply research findings because of reasons such as; they do not understand them, they do not know much about them, they do not know how to apply them, they are not allowed to use them or they do not believe in them (p.95).
Barriers to utilizing research findings have been intensively studied by many researchers and the possible measures to enhance application proposed. Some of the barriers to utilizing research findings discovered included;
Lack of skills and awareness or isolation from knowledgeable individuals with whom to share and discuss the ideas.
Lack of skills to evaluate research quality,
Unwillingness to try out new ideas
Secondly, it was found out that some administrative issues arose when trying to implement new ideas and bringing about changes in the methods related to research findings. According to Kajermo et al (2008), insufficient authority, insufficient time allocated to analyzing and synthesizing research findings, inadequate support facilities to support this, absence of opportunities to conduct discussions pertaining to research findings and lack of support from professionals working in the health organizations were also identified to be factors resulting to infrequent application to research findings. Parahoo (2000) also noted further that low qualities of research methods also hindered the application of research. This was observed in the methodological inadequacies, conflicting readings and translation of research literatures, differences in results justification and poorly drawn conclusions from the study conducted.
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As noted by Kajermo et al (2008), many early studies indicated that the initial nursing trainings did not focus on clinical problems and this made the application of knowledge to patients hard for the nurses. To overcome this barrier, many researchers focused on ways that could be used to improve the quality and quantity of clinical research studies by first improving on the results obtained and making the findings more applicable in practice. Another barrier that existed in the profession was that, most of the nursing studies had not been replicated. This is where two or more studies focused on the same problem but there was no sound research finding that could be used in the various research settings. This problem meant that the studies needed to be replicated in different settings so that it would fit with any target population.
According to Funk et al (2005), many measures have today been undertaken by those in the management positions at healthcare ministries to ensure that the application of research findings is effectively carried out by the nurses. One of the measures included replicating more of the research studies by presenting the researches at research conferences and publishing the researches in journals and other clinical books in time, to avoid delays in publication. This measure was supported by the national institute of nursing research (NINR), which started and still funds the replication research projects.
Another measure which was taken was to break the communication barrier that existed between the students and their educators. Application of research results became difficult because the researchers communicated their findings using words that were so difficult for the nursing students to understand and apply in their course work (Kajermo et al 2008). Some of the reports written by the researchers did not indicate how the findings from the studies were useful to the nursing practice and application by the student nurses. Kajermo et al (2008) reports that, to overcome the communication barrier between the students and the researchers, special clinical journals have been published for nurses in practice. Such journals were developed to bring the major points in a manner that could be easily understood by the nursing students in practice. The researchers were also advised to work hand in hand with the decision makers so that a link could be established which absorbs their requirements while analyzing the results.
Kajermo et al (2008) recommended that, countries should be in a position to establish advisory committees which will focus on putting research results into practice. They noted that the decision makers were too busy to get involved in the research planning process, and so most of them overlooked the need of considering research findings in their decision making process. Other measures included conducing high quality proposals, maintaining support through the research process, developing specific funding criteria to be used when conducting a research and putting more emphasis on the aspect of application in the nursing practice, using easy and understandable research designs and avoiding the use of complicated research statistical techniques, and lastly empowering the staff on the need to prioritize research work. It is therefore conclusively the responsibility of the health managers to ensure that their nursing students get an easy way to use and apply their research findings well.
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