Nursing Research: A Powerful Tool to Improve Health Outcomes

NursingJanuary 23, 2014


When you think of a nurse, you often don't think of nursing research. But the fact is, nursing research has been the foundation of nursing since the days of Florence Nightingale. She recognized that patients had better health outcomes when they were treated in sanitary conditions. Since that time, the field of nursing has tried to find the practice that will yield the best outcomes for patients. Listed below are the basic steps of how research in nursing is conducted. If you are a BSN student, prepare yourself, as this will be a part of your curriculum.

The American Nurses's Association provides a guideline for nurse research called the Research Toolkit. The toolkit begins where all research inquiries begin: with a question. These questions can range from, "how can hospital staff reduce falls in elderly patients?" to "how can nurses improve health care compliance among diabetic homeless populations?"

After this step, nursing researchers look at the existing evidence and see what other conclusions have been drawn. This is done through searching databases where research records are kept like CINAHL and Pub Med.

The results from this search must be appraised, which means that you have to see if the research studies were any good. There is a ranking system, where a systematic review, or a large meta-study compiled of many quality research studies, is the best evidence you can find. The lowest ranking is an article in a journal. Further discussion was compiled by the University of Virginia.

At this point, you should be able to draw some conclusions about your research topic and start either implementing some changes, continuing to practice the same, or beginning your own research to find out more about what you should do.

Nursing research is a powerful tool. Nurses have an impact on patient outcomes in the hospitals and in communities as well. All nurses can be nurse researchers as they consistently seek out the best practices for their patients. They can search for established evidence and institute change in their communities for the better. With the right education and motivation, a nurse can move mountains to improve health care outcomes in the hospital, in the community and all over the world.

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