Aim. The purposes of the study were to describe the extent of research, clinical and evidence-based practice articles published in clinical nursing journals and to explore the communication of research and practice knowledge in the clinical nursing literature using citation analysis.
Background. For nursing research to have an impact on clinical practice and build evidence for practice, findings from research must transfer into the clinical practice literature. By analysing the extent of research published in clinical nursing journals, the citations in those articles, and other characteristics of the nursing literature, we can learn more about the linkages between research and practice in nursing.
Design. This was a descriptive study of 768 articles and 18901 citations in those articles.
Methods. Feature articles were classified into four groups – (i) original research reports; (ii) clinical practice articles (non-data based papers on a clinical topic); (iii) systematic reviews, integrative literature reviews, guidelines and papers describing evidence-based practice; and (iv) others. Each citation was then examined to determine if it was a reference to a research study or to a document on clinical practice.
Results. Nearly a third of the articles in clinical nursing journals were reports on research studies; another third addressed clinical practice. Of the 14232 citations analysed in clinical nursing journals, 6142 were to research reports (43·2%) and about the same number of citations were to clinical documents (n = 5844, 41·1%). Medical research articles were cited most frequently – 27·1% of the citations in clinical journal articles. Nursing research articles were only 7·6% of the cited documents in clinical publications.
Conclusions. Dissemination of research findings in the clinical nursing literature occurred at two levels: through articles that reported studies of potential value to the nurse's practice and citations to research publications within articles.
Relevance to clinical practice. Disseminating research in journals that are geared to clinicians is essential to increase nurses’ awareness of research findings that might be relevant to their practice. This study documented that articles in clinical nursing journals disseminated not only information about clinical practice, but also informed readers about research of potential value to the nurse's practice.