Differentiating Research, Evidence-Based Practice, and Quality Improvement

By Conner, Brian T. | American Nurse Today, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Differentiating Research, Evidence-Based Practice, and Quality Improvement


Conner, Brian T., American Nurse Today


Research, evidence-based practice (EBP), and quality improvement support the three main goals of the Magnet Recognition Program [R] and the Magnet Model component of new knowledge, innovation, and improvements. The three main goals of the Magnet Recognition Program are to:

* promote quality in a setting that supports professional practice

* identify excellence in the delivery of nursing services to patients or residents

* disseminate best practices in nursing services.

The Magnet Model includes five components:

* transformational leadership

* structural empowerment

* exemplary professional practice

* new knowledge, innovation, and improvements

* empirical quality outcomes.

To achieve the goals of the Magnet Recognition Program and the "new knowledge innovation and improvements" component of the Magnet Model, nurses at all levels of healthcare organizations must be involved. Many nurses may be unaware of the importance of their contributions to developing new knowledge, innovations, and improvements and may not be able to differentiate among those processes. This article explains the basic differences among research, EBP, and quality improvement (QI.) (See the box below.)

//Start box//

Comparing research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement

Research                Evidence-based          Quality improvement
                        practice

 *  Applies a            * Translates the        * Uses a system to
  methodology,            best clinical           monitor and
  which may               evidence, typically     evaluate the
  be quantitative or      from research           quality and
  qualitative, to         results, to make        appropriateness of
  generate new            patient care            care based on EBP
  knowledge, or           decisions               and research
  validate existing      * Involves more than
  knowledge based on      research use; may      * Involves A
  a theory                include clinical        systematic
                          expertise and           method for improving
 * Uses systematic,       knowledge gained        processes, outcomes,
  scientific inquiry      through experience      or both
  and disciplined,
  rigorous methods to    * Process begins        * Evolved from
  answer a research       with a burning          continuous quality
  question or             question, which may     improvement and
  test a hypothesis       arise from either       total quality
  about an                problem-focused         management
  intervention            or knowledge-           organizational
                          focused triggers        philosophies
 * Begins with
  a burning              * Involves a            * Focuses on systems,
  question and uses       systematic review       processes, or
  a systematic            of literature,          functions or a
  review of               including critical      combination
  literature,             appraisal, to
  including               find the best          * Typically doesn't
  critical                available evidence      require extensive
  appraisal,             * Studies whether        review of literature
  to identify             the evidence            or critical
  knowledge gaps          warrants a practice     appraisal
                          change
 * Contains variables                            * QI projects are
  that can be            * Evaluation             site-specific;
  measured and/or         includes these          results aren't
  manipulated to          questions: If           intended to
  describe, explain,      practice change         provide generalizable
  predict, and/or         was made, did           knowledge or best
  control phenomena,      it produce the          evidence
  or to develop           expected results?
  meaning, discovery,     If not, why not? … 

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