Developing evidence-based practice: experiences of senior and junior clinical nurses


K. Gerrish:


Title. Developing evidence-based practice: experiences of senior and junior clinical nurses

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to compare factors influencing the development of evidence-based practice identified by junior and senior nurses.

Background.  Assessing factors influencing the achievement of evidence-based practice is complex. Consideration needs to be given to a range of factors including different types of evidence, the skills nurses require to achieve evidence-based practice together with barriers and facilitators. To date, little is known about the relative skills of junior and senior clinical nurses in relation to evidence-based practice.

Method.  A cross-sectional survey was undertaken at two hospitals in England, using the Developing Evidence-Based Practice Questionnaire administered to Registered Nurses (n = 1411). A useable sample of 598 (response rate 42%) was achieved. Data were collected in 2003, with comparisons undertaken between junior and senior nurses.

Findings.  Nurses relied heavily on personal experience and communication with colleagues rather than formal sources of knowledge. All respondents demonstrated confidence in accessing and using evidence for practice. Senior nurses were more confident in accessing all sources of evidence including published sources and the Internet, and felt able to initiate change. Junior nurses perceived more barriers in implementing change, and were less confident in accessing organizational evidence. Junior nurses perceived lack of time and resources as major barriers, whereas senior nurses felt empowered to overcome these constraints.

Conclusion.  Senior nurses are developing skills in evidence-based practice. However, the nursing culture seems to disempower junior nurses so that they are unable to develop autonomy in implementing evidence-based practice.