The Use of Research by Nurses in Clinical Practice


Research entails ingenious work conducted on a systematic basis. The primary aim of such an undertaking is to acquire in-depth knowledge on, among others, human, cultural, and societal aspects. According to Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt (2011), clinical research refers to studies that involve a person, a group of people, or specimens from patients. To generate the needed results, numerous laboratory examinations on various aspects must be conducted. The facets analyzed include mechanisms of human disease, trials on preventive and therapeutic strategies, and behavioral patterns of collected specimens. The findings are then reported in scientific papers, such as system research reviews (SRRs). Researchers can then consult such articles to expand their knowledge in a given field.

This paper will provide a critique of a systematic research review ‘To what Extent do Nurses use Research in Clinical Practice? A Systematic Review.’ It is authored by a group of 6 scientists. The issues to be critiqued in the selected SRR include the relevance of the research problem addressed, levels of evidence, clarity of the study, overall findings, conclusions, and implications of the findings made.

Use of Research in Clinical Practice: A Critique

Relevance of the Research Problem Addressed in the SRR Article

Research is regarded to be a vital part of any practice. The reason behind this is because comprehensive studies improve understanding of different phenomena. For example, research in clinical practice has numerous benefits to numerous practitioners and other stakeholders. In their article, Squires et al. (2011) point out that successful examinations conducted in clinical practice provide answers to a wide range of queries relevant to nursing practice.

Research in clinical practice is important because it changes the face of medicine. In the past fifty years, for example, medical experts could not treat some of the diseases affecting the human population at the time. However, as a result of numerous studies, most of the diseases considered to be deadly in those eras can now be treated and controlled without difficulties. According to Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt (2011), EBP helps medical practitioners to utilize appraised and scientifically proven evidence to deliver high quality care to their patients. In addition, EBP provides a link between study substantiation and clinical expertise. Consequently, it facilitates individualization of care. Individualization is achieved through the inclusion of patient preferences in the care programs.

A Critique of the Research Rigor Associated with the Studies used in the SRR

In their study, Squires et al. (2011) used a systematic review of Randomized Control Trials (RTCs). According to Squires et al. (2011), RCTs are either pragmatic or explanatory. Other experimental designs chosen by the researchers include clinical trials and quasi-experimental studies. Non-experimental approaches employed included observational studies. They encompassed cohort, cross-sectional, and case control designs. All methodologies applied reinforce the study’s rigor. Squires et al. (2011) also gathered information from articles that addressed the issue of licensed practical and registered nurses and their use of research in clinical practice. The reason behind this is because the sources are reliable and credible. In addition, the researchers sought data from different sources of evidence. They include level 1, where substantiation was achieved through systematic review of RTC’s. Level II involved gathering evidence from at least one RCT. Level III is where evidence was gathered from controlled trials without quasi-experimental and randomization. Other levels used include V and VI. The two entailed obtaining data from descriptive and qualitative studies (Squires et al., 2011).

A Critical Analysis of the Levels of Evidence

The researchers sought information from different databases. According to Squires et al. (2011), the research strategy entailed gathering information from thirteen diverse online bibliographic catalogues. The process helped the researchers to compare results from different studies. Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt (2011) point out that using a wide variety of sources in a study generates comprehensive evidence to support the objectives of the undertaking. To appraise their final findings and support their work, the researchers grouped the articles into four categories. The groupings include low research use in clinical practice, moderate-low research use in clinical practice, moderate-high research use in clinical practice, and high research use in clinical practice. The researchers disregarded articles containing information about nurses who observed clinical practice guidelines. The reason behind the decision was because these guidelines are mainly based on non-research evidence (Squires et al., 2011). In spite of the deliberate failure to use such articles, the authors were able to include in their research editorials on nurses’ utilization of protocol information.

Clarity of the Studies Presented

A critical analysis of the SRR article reveals the clarity with which Squires et al. (2011) present their findings. The researchers discuss all the designs used to gather information and the various aspects taken into consideration. For example, in the section on search strategy for identification of studies, the researchers provide the readers with information on the tactics employed to determine the suitable approach. The methods used to determine relevant data and articles are also presented clearly. To this end, Squires et al. (2011) state that members from two different teams were charged with the responsibility of screening the titles and abstracts of the articles collected. All the information gathered is explained in a simple manner. The move allows readers to understand the information and presentations without difficulties.

A Descriptive Analysis of the Overall Findings

Squires et al. (2011) found that the use of research evidence in clinical practice is conceptualized in numerous ways. After analyzing the selected articles, the researchers conclude that nurses use research evidence in their practice at ‘average’ and ‘moderate high’ levels. An examination of the degree of this application shows few disparities in the results generated. In addition, there were few variations between the findings gathered from specific and general research-based practices. As a result, Squires et al. (2011) conclude that the instruments used influence the results and findings obtained. Research evidence is used in different ways in clinical practice. In their study, the team discovered that most nurses employ the conceptual examination approach.

A Critique of the Conclusions and Implications

In the conclusion section of their research, Squires et al. (2011) summarize their results and findings with clarity. The primary observations made during the entire research process are well documented. The team is also not afraid to point out the weaknesses and limitations of their research undertaking. For example, they state that there are possible weaknesses in the technique utilized to compute the degree of research evidence used among the nurses. They observe that the technique may not be sensitive enough to detect changes in the utilization of this evidence over time.

The study by Squires et al. (2011) has various implications on current practice and future research. They include the need for librarians to train nurses on how to search for evidence from healthcare centers that support EBP. In addition, nurses need assistance on how to make proper use of EBP. The objective can be achieved by offering EBP skills courses. In addition, the research indicates the need to redesign healthcare practice and offer effective, safe, and efficient services. In terms of future research, nurses will have to consider scientific engagement in new fields of study. In addition, EBP will provide a practical framework that can be used to carry out further studies in clinical practice.


Melnyk, B., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins.

Squires, J., Hutchinson, A., Bostrom, A., O’Rourke, H., Cobban, S., & Estabrooks, C. (2011). To what extent do nurses use research in clinical practice?: A systematic review. Implementation Science, 6(21), 1-17.

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