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One of the nursing profession's major goals is to advance the ideal of research-based nursing practice. Much has been written during the past decade about the difficulties inherent in achieving the goal of applying research findings to practice. With the increasing national interest in promoting optimal women's health care reforms, one area that should receive renewed interest is that of intrapartal nursing care in the hospital setting. In particular, second stage labor management is supported by considerable research, much of it conducted by nurses, that has not been incorporated into mainstream nursing care. This article discusses the issues surrounding research utilization within the context of nursing practice today, particularly in relation to existing barriers. Using intrapartal nursing care as a focal point to examine these issues, implications for a stronger emphasis on an empirical basis for practice are be identified. Recommendations for approaches to facilitate the process of research utilization by maternity nurse clinicians also is delineated.