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Keywords:

  • qualitative research;
  • evidence-based practice

Abstract

Evaluation of qualitative findings for application to nursing practice can go beyond the rigor with which the evidence was developed to the characteristics of the findings themselves. Five categories of qualitative findings are described that vary in their levels of complexity and discovery: those restricted by a priori frameworks, descriptive categories, shared pathway or meaning, depiction of experiential variation, and dense explanatory description. Four modes of clinical application of qualitative evidence are proposed—insight or empathy, assessment of status or progress, anticipatory guidance, and coaching—that vary in their degree of visibility and patient involvement. The greater the complexity and discovery within qualitative findings, the stronger may be the potential for clinical application. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 24: 145–153, 2001