Research and standards of nursing care are looked at to see in what way they are inter-related. The label ‘standards of care’ is said to embrace several meanings: the quality of care and the measures against which the care can be judged. For research, it is argued, concepts must be clearly defined before they can be the subject of serious study. It is thus essential that the different meanings implied by standards are separated out.
After discussion on this point, whereby the different components are analysed, quality of care, standards of care and effectiveness of care are illustrated through their inter-relationship. It is then suggested that the contribution of research to standards used as measures against which care can be judged may be either to indicate which criteria could comprise useful measures, or to indicate the limitations and constraints of the measures chosen for use.