Background. Nursing research is an integral component of improving the care of people with cancer. However, for research to be successfully integrated and applied to practice, ownership and identification must come from those in practice. The need for local and national strategies for cancer nursing research and the importance of establishing priorities for cancer nursing research have been repeatedly acknowledged.
Study aim. The aim of the study was to facilitate a strategic approach to cancer nursing research by identifying the research priorities of cancer nurses.
Research method. A three-round Delphi survey was administered to nurses (n = 112) attending a cancer nursing research conference in Northern Ireland. Participants were asked to identify five research questions that they considered a high priority for cancer nursing. A response rate of 54% (60 delegates) was obtained for round one and this generated 117 statements. These statements were content analysed. Two subsequent quantitative rounds followed this.
Results. The top priority areas identified were psychosocial issues, for example communication and information needs; professional issues relating to nurse burnout, stress and nurse-led care; and context of care issues including continuity of care.
Limitations. A potential limitation of the study is the use of conference delegates. However, it is argued that these are the people we wanted to target as they could be considered as experts who already had an interest and clinical background in both cancer research and practice.
Conclusion. These priorities have helped to provide both direction and focus for the development of a cancer nursing research strategy for Northern Ireland. It is recommended that future research questions should be focused around the highest ranked priorities.