Aims and objectives. The main aim was to illuminate essential areas for future patient-related nursing research. The secondary aim was to stimulate nurses to explore important research areas based on clinical practice.
Background. Priority-setting is regarded as one of the main strategies to ensure excellence in nursing science, to direct nursing research and develop healthcare practice accordingly as well as strengthening the nursing profession's research commitment.
Design and method. A three-round Delphi survey was conducted. A panel of 118 clinicians, in various nursing, teaching and administrative positions participated. Ninety-five panel members completed all three rounds (81%). The majority were female, aged 25–67 (mean 49) years, with an average of 23 (range 1–40) years in nursing, working in hospitals (42%), primary healthcare centres, community care (44%) and administration/education (14%). Sixty-six per cent had graduate diplomas and 34% had an academic education, ranging from bachelors’ to doctoral degrees.
Results. Three hundred and eighty nursing research areas were identified, evaluated and ranked using content analysis and descriptive statistics. The participants’ prioritised research aimed at preserving humanistic values and developing cross-organisational collaboration in the healthcare system. Nursing research aimed at preserving human dignity in geriatric care, respectful transfers, continuity of care and exploring the characteristics of a caring encounter were ranked high relative to the patient welfare, to the healthcare organisation and to the nursing profession.
Conclusions. Nurses prioritise research that will improve clinical practice, assure patients’ wellbeing and a caring environment. Nurses can reach consensus on the objectives of patient-related nursing research despite differences in age, workplace, educational period and level of academic degree.
Relevance to clinical practice. When prioritising important areas for patient-related nursing research, informed nursing practitioners’ commitment initiates knowledge development within clinical practice from a nursing science perspective as well as expanding cross-professional and cross-organisational collaboration.