Bridging the Gap… How Can Researchers and Bedside Nurses Understand Each Other Better?
Blog post by InspireNet member, Deepshikha Wilson
About a year ago, I began a new role as a research coordinator for a nation-wide Canadian study. This study was a quality improvement initiative with a focus on knowledge translation (KT). More specifically, the study aimed to implement new pain assessment and management techniques in two critical care units. A core team in each unit met monthly to brainstorm KT strategies that would be implemented in order to encourage nurses to implement these new pain assessment and management techniques. The study also tracked:
· Which KT strategies were deemed useful and which were not.
· What the barriers and facilitators were to the uptake of knowledge by unit staff.
Prior to this role, I worked as a bedside nurse in one of the critical care units involved in the study for six years. I also currently still work there in a casual capacity. Thus, I have the unique role of having my foot in both doors. I am part of the knowledge diffusion team and I am the bedside nurse who is the implementer of new knowledge.
In my role as a research coordinator, I encourage nurses in implementing a new pain assessment and management tool. In this role, I will often encounter nurses who question the KT process. More specifically, they ask why they should incorporate new knowledge into their practice when the old way was “working just fine”. They feel research is just an excuse to stay away from the bedside, which is more relevant work because it is patient-centered and focuses on “what really matters.” Members of my research practice council are lacking understanding of the bedside nurse's reality. When audit results show a decrease in uptake of a pain tool, they blame the nurses and accuse them of being lazy and habitual.
Nurses tend to value knowledge that comes from their own experiences, information from colleagues and hospital policies and procedures. Researchers on the other hand, live in a world of research findings and statistical analysis. Thus, two views of practice exist accompanied by a seeming lack of respect or value for each other’s world. According to McClearly & Brown (2002), this research-practice disconnect exists due to a lack of understanding of each other’s roles. They found that nurses who have had some formal education in research were more likely to uptake new knowledge. Thus, organizations should ensure that informal education about research is accessible to nurses. In addition opportunities for nurses to become involved in research are vital to closing the research-practice gap.
What other strategies need to be implemented in order for this gap between the knowledge translation process and clinical practice to be closed and for both domains to realize they are aiming for the same goal?
McClearly, L. & Brown, T. G. (2002). Research utilization among pediatric health professionals. Nursing and Health Sciences, 4, 163-171.
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