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Promotion of evidence-based practice by professional nursing associations: literature review


  • Gerda Holleman MScN RN,

  • Aart Eliens MScN RN,

  • Marjolein Van Vliet PhD RN,

  • Theo Van Achterberg PhD RN

Gerda Holleman,
Netherlands Centre for Excellence in Nursing (LEW),
PO Box 3135,
3502 GC Utrecht,
The Netherlands.


Aim.  This paper reports a literature review examining the activities of professional nursing associations in the promotion of evidence-based practice.

Background.  Professional nursing associations can play a role in the implementation and achievement of evidence-based practice as such associations aim to develop and further educate nurses professionally, build professional networks representing the interests of nurses and the nursing profession, influence the government and policymakers, and support and protect the basic values of nurses. The exact role of professional nursing associations in the promotion of evidence-based practice is as yet unclear, along with just how the role of such associations can be expanded and which strategies can be used to promote evidence-based practice among members.

Method.  A literature and Internet search was undertaken using the PUBMED, CINAHL, SCIRUS, INVERT, and the Cochrane databases using the terms evidence-based practice(s)* or EBP*, which were then combined with Nursing Society*, Nursing Organization*, Nursing Organisation*, Nursing Association* or Nursing Council*. Other sources included a Google search of the Internet, and the sites of various members of the International Council of Nurses. Publications in English, French or German from 1993 to 2004 were used, and the Internet search was conducted on 17 July 2003.

Results.  Sixty nursing associations described the dissemination of evidence-based practice using one or more types of activities (179 activities in total). All of these activities were of a voluntary nature, with a predominant focus (132/179 activities) on intrinsic motivation of nurses. More specifically, most of the activities were aimed at nurses’ competences and attitudes in relation to evidence-based practice.

Conclusion.  Professional nurses’ associations are active in promoting evidence-based practice among their nurse members, but only those focusing on changing competences and attitude by addressing intrinsic motivation are well used. Other types of activities deserve to be explored, including behaviour-oriented approaches, approaches using structural, social or financial influence measures and perhaps methods based on ‘involuntary involvement’.