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Government chief nursing officers’ perceptions of barriers to using research on staffing


  • M. Baernholdt phd, mph, rn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Postdoctoral Fellow, Health Care Quality and Patient Outcomes, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina,
    2. Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Virginia,
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  • N. M. Lang phd, rn, faan, frcn

    1. Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, Pennsylvania,
    2. Wisconsin Regent Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
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Assistant Professor Marianne Baernholdt, University of Virginia, School of Nursing, McLeod Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0782, USA; Tel: 1-757-870-4978; Fax: 1-757-253-7511; E-mail:


Background:  Current global healthcare problems include nursing shortages contributing to low nurse staffing. Low nurse staffing is associated with poor patient and nurse outcomes, but research utilization using these findings especially at the policy level remains slow.

Research objective:  To assess high-ranking government nurses’ perceptions of barriers to using research on nurse staffing.

Methods:  An electronic information message about the impact of nurse staffing was presented to government chief nursing officers (CNOs) from 110 countries. The CNOs’ perceptions of local barriers to utilizing these research findings were then assessed in an electronic survey. The four factors that influence the first two stages of Rogers’s five-stage model of diffusion were examined. The factors, characteristics of the adopter, organization, innovation and communication, were measured using an adapted version of the BARRIERS scale.

Results:  Barriers were present in all four characteristics. The top barrier was lack of reports and studies in one place. Other barriers were lack of cooperation within the organization and lack of awareness of the research findings. Differences according to Gross National Income were also noted.

Conclusions:  The CNOs and other health policy advisors can use the findings in planning for adequate nurse staffing. Development of electronic newsletters with summaries of pertinent research for CNOs and other policy advisors is needed. Future studies on nurse staffing are warranted. They should focus on other settings and how best to share research findings with policymakers.