• critical thinking;
  • cross-sectional;
  • nurse education;
  • nurses;
  • regression analyses;
  • research utilisation

Aim.  The aim was to describe research utilisation among newly graduated nurses and to explore critical thinking dispositions and other individual and contextual factors as possible predictors for research use.

Background.  Nurses are expected to be research users, and variations in research utilisation are explained by individual and contextual factors. To our knowledge, critical thinking dispositions have not earlier been explored as predictors for research use.

Design.  A cross-sectional design was chosen.

Methods.  Data collection was carried out from October 2006 to April 2007 using the Research Utilization Questionnaire (RUQ) and the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI). The response rate was 33% (n = 617). Pearson’s chi-square test and regression analyses were used for statistical calculations.

Results.  The respondents reported a positive attitude towards research, but only 24% (n = 148) were defined as research users. A significantly higher proportion of research users reported high critical thinking scores. Critical thinking explained 20% of the variance in attitude towards research and 11% of the variance in research use. Availability and support to implement research findings was the second strongest predictor for research use.

Conclusions.  Critical thinking, a significant predictor for attitude towards research and for the use of research, should be recognised and strengthened in nursing education and clinical practice. Contextual factors seem to be important for newly graduated nurses’ use of research.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurse leaders play an important role in nurturing newly graduated nurses’ critical thinking and assisting them in transferring their positive attitude towards research into research use. Nurse educators play a significant role in supporting, challenging and supervising nursing students to be critical thinkers and strong believers in research utilisation.