Aim. This paper reports a systematic literature review examining relationships between contextual factors and research utilization in nursing, examining the strength of these relationships, and mapping the contextual factors to the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services model of research implementation.
Background. Healthcare organizations have long struggled with how to improve clinical care outcomes. Understanding which contextual factors enhance nursing research utilization may support organizations in creating environments that facilitate the uptake of evidence in nursing practice to improve these outcomes.
Methods. A search of five electronic bibliographic databases and a manual search of specific journals were conducted for studies that were published in English and examined contextual factors as independent variables and research utilization as the dependent variable from the perspective of nurses working in clinical practice. The studies were assessed for quality of design, sample, measurement and statistical analysis.
Results. Ten papers met the search criteria. Six contextual factors were identified as having a statistically significant relationship with research utilization, namely the role of the nurse, multi-faceted access to resources, organizational climate, multi-faceted support, time for research activities and provision of education. The contextual factors could successfully be mapped to the dimensions of context in the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework (context, culture, leadership), with the exception of evaluation.
Conclusion. The strength of the relationship between the six contextual factors and research utilization by nurses is still largely unknown as (a) few studies were found of sufficient quality because of methodological limitations and (b) the results in reviewed studies were mixed. More robust methods in future work would yield a better understanding of the full impact of contextual factors on nurses’ use of research.