Background: Integration of research evidence into clinical nursing practice is essential for the delivery of high-quality nursing care. Leadership behaviours of nurse managers and administrators have been identified as important to support research use and evidence-based practice. Yet minimal evidence exists indicating what constitutes effective nursing leadership for this purpose, or what kinds of interventions help leaders to successfully influence research-based care.
Aims: (1) To describe leadership activities of nurse managers that influence nurses' use of research evidence; and (2) to identify interventions aimed at supporting nurse managers to influence research use in clinical nursing practice.
Methods: A search of electronic databases was conducted for studies on behaviours or activities of nurse managers/administrators and the use of research evidence by nurses. Sifting, screening, and quality assessments were done by two reviewers. Results were synthesized by study type (quantitative and qualitative) and reported.
Results: Twelve studies met inclusion criteria (eight quantitative, four qualitative). Three activities were found in quantitative studies that influenced nurses' use of research: managerial support, policy revisions, and auditing. Qualitative studies showed organizational issues as barriers to managers' abilities to affect research use, while role modeling and valuing research facilitated research use. Four studies, one of which was experimental, included an intervention to support managers, but all had insufficient information about leadership development.
Conclusions: To date, important descriptive work highlights the strategic role managers have in research transfer. Both facilitative and regulatory activities appear to be necessary for mangers to influence research use. These findings have important implications for evolving theoretical models describing factors that affect the process of research utilization. It is time to move the science forward and test a hypothesis linking leadership to outcomes. Qualitative methods are essential for understanding the process of leadership for research transfer.