International Differences in Nursing Research, 2005–2006


  • Denise F. Polit PhD,

    1. President, Humanalysis, Inc., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 and Adjunct Professor, Research Centre for Clinical and Community Practice Innovation, Griffith University School of Nursing, Gold Coast, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Cheryl Tatano Beck DNSc, CNM, FAAN

    1. Mu, Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut School of Nursing, Storrs, CT
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr. Denise Polit, Humanalysis, Inc., 75 Clinton Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.E-mail:


Purpose: To compare the characteristics of nursing research being done in different countries, using data from studies published in nonspecialty, English-language nursing journals.

Design: Data for this cross-sectional analysis were retrieved from a consecutive sample of 1,072 studies published in eight leading English-language research journals in 2005 and 2006.

Methods: For each study, data were extracted on the characteristics of the study participants and authors, study focus-specialty area, funding, and methodologic attributes. Studies from 15 countries or regional groupings were compared.

Findings: International differences in authors, participants, and study characteristics were typically large and statistically significant. Studies that were focused on nurses were especially prevalent in Europe, Australia, and Canada, whereas patient-centered studies were most common in Asian countries and the US. Qualitative studies were predominant in Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Asian nurse researchers, by contrast, undertook mostly quantitative studies, and were especially likely to conduct intervention research. Significant country differences existed in the omission of demographic (age and sex) information about participants, with omissions most prevalent in the UK and Ireland and least prevalent in Asian countries. Research funding was reported for 62% of all studies, ranging from 13% in Turkey to over 75% in Canada and the US.

Conclusions: Although this study had several limitations, especially with regard to potential biases in the sample of studies from non-English-speaking countries, this analysis of over 1,000 nursing studies indicates many important inter-country differences in the focus, methods, and authorship patterns of nursing research published in leading journals.

Clinical Relevance: Because research “informs” practice, international differences that exist in the focus and methods of nursing research have implications for nursing practice in the respective countries.