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Promoting evidence-based practice: the roles and activities of professional nurses’ associations


  • Theo Van Achterberg PhD RN,

  • Gerda Holleman MScN RN,

  • Marit Van de Ven MScN RN,

  • Maria H.F. Grypdonck PhD RN,

  • Aart Eliëns MScN RN,

  • Marjolein Van Vliet PhD RN

Theo Van Achterberg,
Centre for Quality of Care Research,
Nursing Science Section,
Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre,
PO Box 9101,
6041 NP,
The Netherlands.


Aim.  This paper reports a study exploring the role perceptions and current activities in evidence-based practice promotion of professional nurses’ associations in the Netherlands.

Background.  The promotion of evidence-based practice contributes to professional standards in nursing and good quality care for patients. As professional nurses’ associations can be key players in this process, the nature of their roles and current activities deserves to be explored.

Methods.  Roles and activities were explored for 43 professional nurses’ associations (83% of all national associations). Data were collected using interviews with the associations’ board members. Findings from the interviews were validated with those from an analysis of the associations’ policy reports and other publications in the previous 2 years.

Results.  Board members primarily thought that they had roles in the selection and distribution of evidence. The roles of participant (n = 13) and performer (n = 13) in selecting evidence, and those of facilitator (n = 12), initiator (n = 15) and performer (n = 41) in the distribution of evidence were often addressed. A few respondents reflected on roles in generating evidence and implementing evidence-based practice in patient care. A majority of the associations was contemplating activities in the promotion of evidence-based practice. Specific activities for each of six relevant aspects in the promotion of evidence-based practice were found in fewer than five associations.

Conclusion.  Professional nurses’ association roles in the promotion of evidence-based practice need to be viewed in relation to the tasks to be accomplished, especially those of selecting and distributing evidence. Although many organizations expressed motivation, professional nurses’ associations have a long way to go in the promotion of evidence-based practice among their members.