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Registered nurses' application of evidence-based practice: a national survey


  • Anne-Marie Boström PhD RN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Postdoctoral Fellow, Knowledge Utilization Studies Program, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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  • Anna Ehrenberg PhD RN,

    1. Professor, School of Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden
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  • J. Petter Gustavsson PhD BSc,

    1. Professor, Division of Psychology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Lars Wallin PhD RN

    1. Senior researcher Division of Nursing, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet and, Director of Clinical Research Utilization, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
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Anne-Marie Boström
Faculty of Nursing
University of Alberta
5-104 Clinical Science Building
Canada T6G 2G3


Background  Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a worldwide approach to improving health care. There is, however, a shortage of studies examining whether or not newly graduated health care professionals are actually applying EBP in their daily work.

Objectives  To examine the application of EBP in clinical practice by registered nurses (RNs) 2 years post graduation and to explore whether the application of EBP differed with regard to the clinical settings where RNs were working.

Method  A cross-sectional design using a national sample. Data were collected in 2007 from 987 RNs (response rate 76%). Six items measuring respondents' self-reported extent of applying EBP were used.

Results  Of the 987 RNs, 19% formulated questions and performed searches in data bases, 56% used other information sources, 31% appraised the literature, 30% participated in practice development and 34% participated in evaluating clinical practice. A greater proportion of the RNs working in elder care applied EBP compared with the RNs working in hospitals, psychiatric care and primary care.

Conclusions  The RNs applied the components of EBP to a rather low extent 2 years post graduation despite EBP being an important objective in Swedish health care and educational programmes since the 1990s. These findings support other studies reporting the implementation of EBP in organizations as a complex and often slow process. The differences in the RNs extent of applying EBP in relation to their workplace indicate that contextual factors and the role of the RN in the organization are of importance for getting EBP into practice.