Background. Nurses' attitudes towards research have been illuminated in many studies. However, there is still a need for more knowledge about the attitudes and awareness of undergraduate nursing students.
Aim. To investigate Swedish undergraduate nursing students' attitudes towards and awareness of research and development within nursing, and to illuminate factors that may have an impact on their attitudes and awareness.
Methods. A questionnaire consisting of three parts: demographic data, attitude scale, and research awareness was used. Parametric and nonparametric statistics were used. Two hundred and one students participated in the study and the response rate was 77%. Cronbach's alpha test on the seven factors was between 0·52 and 0·80.
Results. Most of the students had positive attitudes towards nursing research. More than half (60%) of the students expected to make use of nursing research sometime in the future and about 25% had never read any of the scientific nursing journals. The majority (77%) of the students were acquainted with at least one Swedish researcher, but few had attended a doctoral dissertation. Students with an interest in some particular development or research area in nursing were significantly more positive and expected to make use of nursing research more frequently. Other variables that were found to have some impact upon attitudes were gender, age and additional academic studies.
Conclusion. Nursing students had an overall positive attitude towards nursing research and their interest in a particular development or research area was the most important variable for their attitudes and expected use of nursing research in the future. Therefore, it would seem to be important to encourage the students' interest in specific development/research areas of nursing during their education. In spite of the nursing students' positive attitudes to nursing research, the study demonstrates the theory–practice gap is still present to some degree.