Raising research awareness among midwives and nurses: does it work?
Objective The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of two approaches to increase research awareness among midwives and nurses. Design Quasi-experimental with the attitudes of staff in the two groups being measured at two points (January and October 1997). Sample All midwives and nurses working in four clinical areas in an acute NHS Trust. The intervention arm of the study involved all midwives and nurses in the Clinical Directorate of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, while the control arm involved all nurses working in a specialist oncology and haematology unit and in the children’s directorate. Ethics The Joint Ethics Committee considered approval unnecessary because the study involved staff and not patients. Data collection Data were collected by self-complete questionnaires. Interventions A programme of education with policy and practice interventions targeted at ward sisters. Outcome measures Staff attitudes to, knowledge of, and level of involvement in, research. Results The study demonstrated a significant increase in both knowledge and use of research resources. Following the programme of education, staff in the intervention group were significantly more likely to use resources associated with research utilization and to report that they had read a research paper within the last month. Study limitations The time scale of the intervention was restricted by the funding available; a significant Hawthorne effect was evident with both groups showing an increase in knowledge; the pragmatic nature of the study meant that it was not possible to randomize the study groups; the scale of the study did not permit an economic evaluation. Conclusions The introduction of clinical governance challenges healthcare providers to improve the care they deliver. There are huge opportunities for Trusts to invest in developing staff knowledge and use of research. However, staff will only seize these opportunities if there is an appropriate, enabling environment — an environment that delivers intensive interventions and is sensitive to the wider structural factors in the NHS affecting staff morale and commitment. In the absence of this environment, what may be seen as opportunities to managers may be regarded as just another burden by staff.