How can we maximize nursing students’ learning about research evidence and utilization in undergraduate, preregistration programmes? A discussion paper


C. Hamill: e-mail:


Aim.  This article presents a discussion on how to maximize nursing students’ learning about research for evidence-based practice in undergraduate, preregistration programmes.

Background.  Evidence-based practice may use information from many sources, including research. Research utilization concerns the translation of research findings into practice. Thus, while evidence-base practice may not be solely research-based and hence more than research utilization, research remains an important ingredient in ensuring quality and cost-effective care and an academic requirement for nursing students undertaking a science degree-level qualification. Nevertheless, how educators can best support research-related learning and application remains uncertain and requires discussion.

Data sources.  MEDLINE, CINAHL, Social Science Citation Index, British Nursing Index, and Intute were searched for papers published 1980–2011 using the following search terms: research, research utilization, evidence-based practice, learning, teaching, education, training, nursing, health, and social care.

Discussion.  Nursing students need to be able to value the relevance, authority, and utility of nursing research for patient care through embedding research learning in both academic and practice-based settings. Students can be supported in learning how to access, understand, and appraise the authority of research through weaving these skills into enquiry-based learning. Furthermore, encouraging students to undertake research-based practice change projects can support research utilization and development skills.

Conclusion.  Research should be fully embedded throughout nursing curricula beyond the confines of ‘research classes’, integrating learning in academic and practice-based settings. Although this requires synergistic and integrated support of student learning by nurse educators, managers, clinical practitioners, researchers and policymakers; nurse educators have a pivotal role.