Context. In order to design interventions that increase research use in nursing, it is necessary to have an understanding of what influences research use.
Objective. To report findings on a systematic review of studies that examine individual characteristics of nurses and how they influence the utilization of research.
Search strategy. A survey of published articles in English that examine the influence of individual factors on the research utilization behaviour of nurses, without restriction of the study design, from selected computerized databases and hand searches.
Inclusion criteria. Articles had to measure one or more individual determinants of research utilization, measure the dependent variable (research utilization), and evaluate the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. The studies also had to indicate the direction of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables, report a P-value and the statistic used, and indicate the magnitude of the relationship.
Results. Six categories of potential individual determinants were identified: beliefs and attitudes, involvement in research activities, information seeking, professional characteristics, education and other socio-economic factors. Research design, sampling, measurement, and statistical analysis were examined to evaluate methodological quality. Methodological problems surfaced in all of the studies and, apart from attitude to research, there was little to suggest that any potential individual determinant influences research use.
Conclusion. Important conceptual and measurement issues with regard to research utilization could be better addressed if research in the area were undertaken longitudinally by multi-disciplinary teams of researchers.