Multicentre research and the WISECARE experience
The benefits of collaborative research are becoming recognized increasingly within the profession of nursing due to the associated increased likelihood of funding, variety of practice settings and increased access to resources that collaboration brings. While such benefits have made collaborative research one of the most desirable strategies for achieving the goals of research, the potential problems of language and communication, culturally sensitive instruments, access to subjects, availability of technology and lack of research resources have complicated collaborative international research initiatives. Review of the literature, although encouraging such initiatives, does little to provide information regarding the processes involved in multinational collaboration or the associated advantages and disadvantages to guide those embarking on such large scale, multinational, cross-cultural studies. The diverse meanings of collaboration within research initiatives further hamper this understanding. Positive definitions focus on aspects such as sharing expertise, making a valuable contribution to the research and ultimately shared ownership of the accomplishments of the research. One such research project led by nurses was the WISECARE project. WISECARE (Workflow Information Systems for European Nursing Care) was funded by the European Commission and aimed to improve cancer nursing practice and ultimately patient outcomes through the integration and utilization of state of the art information technology. Such a project was developed as a result of nursing's apparent invisibility within health care delivery and the problems experienced by nurses in articulating their worth within an increasingly cost-conscious health care system. Oncology care was selected as the domain for the project not only because this speciality of nursing already has an established network of nurses throughout Europe in the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) but also because the practice of cancer nursing encompasses all aspects of nursing care. This paper will address the advantages and disadvantages associated with collaboration, using the WISECARE project as an example.