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The Concept of Research Utilization as Understood by Swedish Nurses: Demarcations of Instrumental, Conceptual, and Persuasive Research Utilization


  • All authors contributed in designing the study and in collection of the quantitative data. ES collected the qualitative data. Quantitative data analyses were performed by PG, AR and ES and qualitative data analysis by ES and ACE. ES was responsible for drafting the manuscript with contribution of LW and HF. All authors made critical revisions of the manuscript for important intellectual content. The LANE study was supported by AFA Insurance.


Background and Aims

The literature implies research utilization (RU) to be a multifaceted and complex phenomenon, difficult to trace in clinical practice. A deeper understanding of the concept of RU in a nursing context is needed, in particular, for the development of instruments for measuring nurses’ RU, which could facilitate the evaluation of interventions to support the implementation of evidence-based practice. In this paper, we explored nurses’ demarcation of instrumental RU (IRU), conceptual RU (CRU), and persuasive RU (PRU) using an item pool proposed to measure IRU, CRU, and PRU.


The item pool (12 items) was presented to two samples: one of practicing registered nurses (n = 890) in Sweden 4 years after graduating and one of recognized content experts (n = 7). Correlation analyses and content validity index (CVI) calculations were used together with qualitative content analysis, in a mixed methods design.


According to the item and factor analyses, CRU and PRU could not be distinguished, whereas IRU could. Analyses also revealed problems in linking the CRU items to the external criteria. The CVIs, however, showed excellent or good results for the IRU, CRU, and PRU items as well as at the scale level. The qualitative data indicated that IRU was the least problematic for the experts to categorize, whereas CRU and PRU were harder to demarcate.


Our findings illustrate a difficulty in explicitly demarcating between CRU and PRU in clinical nursing. We suggest this overlap is related to conceptual incoherence, indicating a need for further studies. The findings constitute new knowledge about the RU concepts in a clinical nursing context, and highlight differences in how the concepts can be understood by RNs in clinical practice and experts within the field. We suggest that the findings are useful for defining RU in nursing and further development of measures of RU.