Background. There is mounting pressure on nurses and midwives in the United Kingdom to use research findings to inform their practice. However, many still find research difficult to understand and are poorly prepared by education to make use of it. Hence, there is a pressing need to evaluate the research education included in nursing and midwifery curricula.
Aim. This paper reports a study assessing the impact of research education on the attitudes towards research and use of research findings in practice by graduate nurses and midwives.
Method. A cross-sectional survey using a self-completed postal questionnaire was conducted with a sample of 340 nurse and midwife graduates in the South East of England.
Findings. A response rate of 51% was obtained. A large number of respondents stated that their critical appraisal (96%) and search skills (87%) had improved following graduation and they reported using research findings in practice (16·8% all the time, 50·5% frequently and 32·6% sometimes). Furthermore, the majority expressed positive attitudes towards research and these were related to the research education received. However, a significant number reported finding statistics difficult to understand, lack of time to read research and limited access to research findings at their place of work. Also, a number of respondents would still like more help with searching the literature, implementing research findings in practice and developing their critical appraisal skills further.
Conclusion. It is crucial that some of the major barriers to research utilization are addressed at both individual and organizational levels if evidence-based care is to become a reality. Also, health service managers should consider a number of strategies suggested by respondents to increase the use of research findings in clinical settings.