• barriers to research utilisation;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • professional knowledge;
  • survey

Aim  To examine factors influencing the achivement of evidence-based practice.

Background  This paper reports on the approach taken by a large teaching hospital in England to promote evidence-based practice. A summary of initiatives spanning a 5 year period is presented in order to set the scene for a recent survey of nurses to review progress made. Consideration is given to how the findings from the survey have been used to inform policy and practice.

Methods  A survey by self-completed questionaire was undertaken with a sample of clinical nurses (n = 330). The questionnaire examined the extent to which nurses utilised different sources of knowledge to inform their practice; perceived barriers to accessing evidence-based information and effecting change in practice; and a self-assessment of core skills necessary to underpin evidence-based practice.

Findings  Nurses relied most heavily on experiential knowledge gained through their interactions with nursing colleagues, medical staff and patients to inform their practice. Organisational information in the form of policies and audit reports was drawn upon more frequently than research reports. Lack of time, resources and perceived authority to change practice influenced the extent to which nurses utilised formal sources of evidence. Whereas nurses were relatively well skilled at accessing and reviewing research evidence, they were less confident about their ability to change practice.

Conclusion  Health care organisations need to consider multiple strategies to facilitate and promote evidence-based practice. Managerial support, facilitation, and a culture that is receptive to change are essential.