Nursing Research 1
Running head: NURSING RESEARCH
Nursing Research: A Requisite of Professional Nursing
Park S. Balevre, MSN, RN,BC
Nursing Research 2
Nursing Research: A Requisite of Professional Nursing
While categorizing the requisite components of the profession of nursing,
Leddy and Pepper (1998, p. 5) outline the need for the development of
intellectual characteristics based on a sound body of knowledge. This body of
knowledge is built on two foundational supports: experience and research.
Research is the critical support for the growth of nursing as a profession
because it develops and validates the empirical knowledge on which the
profession is framed (Leddy & Pepper, p. 144). Without this underlying
structure, the scientific practice of professional nursing would collapse.
And as with any foundation, nursing research must be scientifically
constructed with viable components by those of us who seek to build the
professional nursing structure.
As explained by Polit and Hungler (1995, p. 3), the primary role of nursing
research is to establish a scientifically sound basis for practice by using
the scientific method. The scientific method, espoused by most professions in
the general scientific community, applies formal, systematic, and logical
procedures to problem solve and explore phenomena. This enables the
researcher or user of the research to control, predict, or understand the
phenomena being studied (Polit & Hungler, p.7). The scientific method
seeks to control biases and variables as it examines objective, reality-based
facts without allowing guesswork, beliefs, or ideas to form the data. This is
called empirical evidence and can be reliably used to generalize results
(Massey, 1995, p. 2).
Using the scientific method is important to the profession of nursing not
only because it establishes a professional research methodology on the same
level as other scientific disciplines, but because it yields valuable
information about the cause-and-effect relationships specifically related to
nursing phenomena. Polit and Hungler (1995, p. 11) explore the purpose of scientific
research as it applies to the nursing profession, and outline the following
five reasons for conducting research: describe, explore, explain, predict,
and control. I am currently serving on a
Nursing Research 3
committee at St. Vincent=s Medical Center to help develop a new model of
nursing care for the hospital, and have seen each of these five facets of
nursing research on some level.
When I was first introduced to the primary-team model of care, I was
presented with a packet of journal articles, research abstracts and research
studies. Many studies examined the most prominent models of care to classify
and describe the similarities and differences between primary nursing, team
nursing, and a combination of the two. Most often, staff and patient surveys
were used to delineate specific role descriptions and effectiveness. In one
such study, Hastings and Waltz (1995, p. 34) describe and explore the
dynamics and effects of change at the work group level which helped to define
role clarification, time management concerns, boundaries, and staff
decision-making authority. This research was both descriptive and
exploratory, as it describes the models and explores the relationships within
them and between them.
Much of the explanatory research reviewed in conjunction with the model of
care outlined associations between a particular model of care and economics.
This was especially true of one study undertaken to explain how the model of
care affected the budget. Zelauskas and Howes (1992, p. 18) outline the
implementation of a professional practice model and its positive effects on
cost per patient day, sick time, turnover rates and job satisfaction
indicators. This research also concludes with an outline for prediction and
control. Based on the positive results of the model group as compared to the
control group, Zelauskas and Howes concluded that the implementation of a
professional practice model over a 30-month period improved nurse
satisfaction, decreased turnover and sick time, and decreased cost per
patient day rates (p. 40). My committee is currently in the piloting stage of
model of care implementation and is attempting to accomplish the same
predicted results through replication of this study.
St. Vincent=s Medical Center=s model of care implementation is a response to
Nursing Research 4
health care changes governed primarily by financial demands and economic
constraints. However, there are many other current research projects which
have been stimulated by recent health care changes. In the 1990s, the
National Institute for Nursing Research (formerly the National Center for Nursing Research) developed two prioritized research projects called the Conferences
on Research Priorities (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 6). These two
conferences, guided by established nursing scientists, identified and funded
research on current nursing challenges such as the effectiveness of nursing
interventions in HIV/AIDS, low birth weight, and long-term care. The second
conference also addressed the development of nursing practice models of care.
The foundational support of nursing research, even if scientifically
constructed, is not viable unless it is applied. The end result of research
must be put to use in some constructive way to improve nursing care. This is
called research utilization (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 591), whether it
is instrumentally applied directly to nursing practice, or conceptually
applied to augment nursing knowledge in a broader sense. However, nursing
research utilization has lagged behind the development of nursing research
itself. Concerned with this disparity, several formal projects have evolved
to address the deficiency, one of which is the Conduct and Utilization of
Research in Nursing (CURN) project (Polit & Hungler, p. 597).
The CURN project, conducted by the Michigan Nurses= Association, had a simple
objective -- to stimulate the use of nursing research findings in nursing
units (Polit & Hungler, 1995, p. 597). To do this, the project team
worked to disseminate research results as well as to spur interest in
collaborating with research at the practice level. Additionally, the CURN
project targeted nursing and health care organizations to facilitate
organizational support for these research efforts.
Not only did the CURN project generate nine volumes of research studies
(including studies on pain, decubitus ulcers, and preoperative teaching), it
reached conclusions on nursing
Nursing Research 5
research utilization itself (Pilot & Hungler, 1995, p. 597). In addition
to describing six phases of nursing research utilization, the project
concluded that utilization of research is possible only if the organization
supports it, the research has relevance to the nurses using it, and the
research findings are disseminated widely (Polit & Hungler, p. 597). It
has been my experience that this is true in the clinical setting. Even now,
as I work on revisions to St. Vincent=s model of nursing care, translating
the supportive research conclusions to the individual nurse on the unit has
been problematic. The nursing organization strongly supports both research
utilization and current research projects to define and refine the model;
however, nurses generally do not see that it is relevant to their practice,
and tend to view the model changes more as a threat to Adoing things the old
The lesson I have learned is that it is my responsibility, along with my
nursing manager colleagues, to disseminate the project=s research results to
each individual nurse in a simple way that allows them to discover what we,
on the committee, have discovered about the positive aspects of our
primary-team model of care. Not only do I now espouse this task as a nursing
manager, I accept the responsibility to utilize research findings in my own
practice, as well as to stimulate and participate in nursing research. As a
nursing professional, I will continue to help brace the requisite support of
nursing research and utilization, vital to the continued construction of the
profession of nursing.
Nursing Research 6
Hastings, C., & Waltz, C. (1995). Assessing the outcomes of
professional practice redesign: Impact on staff nurse perceptions. Journal of
Nursing Administration, 25 (3), 34-42.
Leddy, S., & Pepper, J. M. (1998). Conceptual basis of professional
nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Massey, V. H. (1995). Nursing research (2nd ed.). Springhouse, PA:
Polit, D. F., & Hungler, B. P. (1995). Nursing research: Principles and
methods (5th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Zelauskas, B., & Waltz, C. (1995). The effects of implementing a
professional practice model. Journal of Nursing Administration, 22 (7/8),
Balevre, P. (2001). Professional nursing burnout and irrational thinking.
Journal for Nurses in Staff
Development, 17 (5), 264 - 271.
Balevre, P. (2001). Is it legal to be crazy: An ethical dilemma. Archives of
Psychiatric Nursing, 15 (5),
Balevre, P. (2001). Rational nursing: A concept analysis for practical
application. Journal for Nurses in
Staff Development, scheduled for Volume 18 (3), May/June, 2002.