Research helps nurses determine effective best practices and improve patient care. Nurses in an online RN to BSN program learn to retrieve, read, critique and apply nursing research. Because new information is always coming to light, it is crucial that BSN-prepared nurses know the importance of research. The findings from peer-reviewed studies can correct old misunderstandings, pave the way for new treatment protocols and create new methodology — all of which improve patient outcomes.
Research also helps nursing respond to changes in the healthcare environment, patient populations and government regulations. As researchers make discoveries, the practice of nursing continues to change. The information students learn can become quickly outdated, so being able to keep up with new developments in nursing helps graduates in their careers.
Every nurse can benefit from knowing why nursing research is important, how research is conducted and how research informs patient care. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs teach nurses to appreciate and use research in their everyday careers, compare findings and read published research.
Information Literacy and Nursing
Information literacy is not the same as the ability to read, use the computer effectively or use search engines. This skill goes beyond comprehending the basics of finding resources. Understanding information transforms it from knowledge you have into knowledge you can actually use. As a nurse, you need knowledge that makes a difference in your practice and helps you stay current in your field.
Nurses learning to effectively process and use information from published research can improve their information literacy. Simply reading study results is of little help if you do not comprehend what you read. Nursing schools teach nurses how to interpret data, compare different studies, process information, critique results and think critically. Information literacy empowers nurses to use research in their careers so they can make meaningful clinical decisions.
Teaching Information Literacy
BSN programs teach nurses to refer to research in response to problems and questions. To this end, many nursing schools collaborate with research librarians to help students become more competent at using information. Problem-based learning allows students to use available information resources when they experience clinical challenges. Practicing these skills in an academic environment prepares nurses to use information resources in their own clinical practice.
Evidence-based practice requires using research outcomes to drive clinical decisions and care. Nurses must base their work on the results of research. Peer-reviewed, published data that is accepted by the nursing profession as a whole provides guidance and establishes best practices in the field. Following the evidence, wherever it leads, is key to evidence-based practice. Results must be free of bias, verifiable and reproducible under the same research conditions. The standards for good research are high because published research results are likely to substantially influence the practice of nursing.
When you evaluate published research, consider these four important areas:
- Validity: Is the study legitimate, sound and accurate?
- Reliability: Is the measurement’s result consistent?
- Relevance: Is there a logical connection between two occurrences, concepts or tasks?
- Outcome: What conclusions did the researchers reach?
Not every study may be meaningful for your patient, question, topic or concern. You need to carefully evaluate every research paper you consider — look for weaknesses, inconsistencies, biases and other problems. Evidence-based practice requires you to become proficient at performing these evaluations and reaching your own conclusions about the information you use.
Types of Research
Research used in evidence-based practice can be quantitative, qualitative or both. From there, these two types can be divided into multiple categories. Understanding how nursing research can be categorized can help you understand and interpret research results.
- Quantitative research: Numbers, percentages and variables are used to communicate results.
- Qualitative research: Findings take the form of thoughts, perceptions and experiences.
Three Types of Quantitative Research:
- Descriptive research expresses the characteristics or traits of a specific group, situation or individual. This type of research looks for new conclusions and connections that can be made based on observed traits.
- Quasi-experimental research looks at cause-and-effect relationships between different variables.
- Correlational research considers the relationships among variables, but does not draw a cause-and-effect relationship.
Five Types of Qualitative Research:
- Ethnography observes or provides analysis about cultural and social customs and practices and how particular cultures understand disease and health.
- Grounded theory is all about building theories in response to questions, problems and observations.
- Symbolic interactionism studies personal interaction, communication patterns, interpretations and reactions. These factors can influence how people change their health practices over time.
- Historical research systematically reviews a topic, culture or group and the subject’s history.
- Phenomenology uses personal experiences and insights to inform the author’s conclusion.
No particular type of research is necessarily better than the others, but each type has certain uses and limitations. It is important for nurses to know the different types of research and how to use them.
Nurses need research because it helps them advance their field, stay updated and offer better patient care. Information literacy skills can help nurses use information more effectively to develop their own conclusions. Evidence-based practice is important for nurses. Nurses need to understand, evaluate and use research in their careers. Nursing schools teach these skills to help nurses advance in their careers.
Learn more about Northeastern State’s online RN to BSN program.