Background: Beliefs about capabilities, or self-efficacy, is a construct originating in social cognitive psychology. Capability beliefs have been found to be positively associated with intention and healthcare practice behaviour. A measure of an individual's beliefs about his/her capability to apply the components of evidence-based practice (EBP) has potential to be useful in implementation research.
Aims: To evaluate the concurrent validity and internal structure of a new scale measuring nurses’ capability beliefs regarding EBP.
Methods: Data were taken from a prospective longitudinal study in Sweden (the Longitudinal Analyses of Nursing Education and Entry in Worklife [LANE]). A cohort of nursing students who graduated in the autumn of 2004 that was followed up 2 years after their graduation was used (n= 1,256). Concurrent validity was tested relating different levels of capability beliefs to extent of research use and application of EBP. An item-response approach was applied in the evaluation of internal structure of the proposed scale (six items).
Results: The psychometric analyses indicated that the six items could be summed to reflect a one-dimensional scale. Nurses with the highest level of capability beliefs reported that they used research findings in clinical practice more than twice as often as those with lower levels of capability beliefs. They also participated in the implementation of evidence seven times more often.
Implications: There is a need for further studies of the construct and predictive validity of the scale. It should also be validated in other groups of health professionals. Learning including mastery experiences, role modelling, social persuasion, and manageable stress could be used in undergraduate education as well as practice development to increase beliefs about capabilities which might open the way to increased application of EBP in healthcare practice.
Conclusions: This new measure is well grounded in social cognitive theory, functions as a one-dimensional scale and possesses promising properties of concurrent validity.