Irish psychiatric nurses' self-reported sources of knowledge for practice



    Corresponding author
    1. Staff Nurse, The National Forensic Mental Health Services, Central Mental Hospital
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    1. Associate Professor/Head of Research & Innovation, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

B. L. Yadav, The National Forensic Mental Health Services, Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin 14, Ireland, E-mail:


Accessible summary

  • • The work of health professionals is generally of a better quality if it is based on reliable knowledge or evidence that comes from good research.
  • While nurses are frequently recommended to use best available research evidence to guide them in their practice, it seems that many do not heed this recommendation.
  • • A survey was undertaken among Irish psychiatric nurses to find out from them the sources of knowledge or evidence that they use in order to guide their practice.
  • • Psychiatric nurses in Ireland get most of their knowledge from their everyday experiences of nursing patients and from fellow practitioners, but few seem to get knowledge to guide their practice from sources such as published professional and research journals.
  • • Based on these findings, it may be concluded that psychiatric nurses are similar to general nurses in their tendency to not use published information to guide their practice.


Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an approach to health care in which health professionals use the best evidence available to guide their clinical decisions and practice. Evidence is drawn from a range of sources, including published research, educational content and practical experience. This paper reports the findings of a study that investigated the sources of knowledge or evidence for practice used by psychiatric nurses in Ireland. The paper is part of a larger study, which also investigated barriers, facilitators and level of skills in achieving EBP among Irish psychiatric nurses. Data were collected in a postal survey of a random sample of Irish psychiatric nurses using the Development of Evidence-Based Practice Questionnaire. The findings revealed that the majority of survey respondents based their practice on information which was derived from interactions with patients, from their personal experience and from information shared by colleagues and members of the multidisciplinary team, in preference to published sources of empirically derived evidence. These findings are consistent with those of the previous similar studies among general nurses and suggest that Irish psychiatric nurses face similar challenges to their general nursing counterparts in attaining of EBP.