Research Awareness: An Important Factor for Evidence-Based Practice?


  • Robert McSherry RGN, DipN(Lon), BSc(Hons), MSc, PGCE,

    1. Robert McSherry, Principal Lecturer, Practice Development, School of Health and Social Care, Practice Development Team, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK.
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  • Angela Artley RGN, BSc(Hons), DipN, ENB 219,

    1. Angela Artley, Lead Nurse, Division of Medicine, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK.
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  • Jan Holloran SRN, SCM. DipN, BSc(Hons), MSc

    1. Jan Holloran, Senior Research Midwife, Obstetric Directorate, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK.
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Address correspondence to Robert McSherry, School of Health and Social Care, University of Teesside, Practice Development Team, Parkside West, Middlesborough, Tees Valley TS1 3BA, UK;


Background: Despite the growing body of literature, the reality of getting evidence into practice remains problematic.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to establish levels of research awareness amongst registered health care professionals (RHCPs) and the influence of research awareness on evidence-based practice activities.

Design and Methods: This was a descriptive quantitative study. A convenience sample of 2,126 registered RHCPs working in a large acute hospital in Northeast England, the United Kingdom was used. A self-completion Research Awareness Questionnaire (RAQ) was directed towards measuring RHCP: attitudes towards research, understanding of research and the research process, and associations with practising using an evidence base. Data were entered into a Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) database and descriptive and inferential statistics were used.

Findings: A total of 843 questionnaires were returned. Seven hundred and thirty-three (91%) RHCPs overwhelmingly agreed with the principle that evidence-based practice has a large part to play in improving patient care. This point was reinforced by 86% (n= 701) of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing with the idea that evidence-based practice is the way forward to change clinical practice. Significant associations were noted between levels of confidence to undertake a piece of research and whether the individual had received adequate information about the research process, had basic knowledge and understanding of the research process, or had research awareness education or training.

Conclusions: The study shows that RHCPs, regardless of position or grade, have a positive attitude towards research but face many obstacles. The key obstacles are lack of time, support, knowledge, and confidence. To address these obstacles, it is imperative that the organisation adopts a structured and coordinated approach to enable and empower individuals to practice using an evidence base.