What Works: Facilitating Staff Participation in Nursing Research

By Lu, Katrina; Ishida, Dianne | American Nurse Today, October 2013 | Go to article overview

What Works: Facilitating Staff Participation in Nursing Research


Lu, Katrina, Ishida, Dianne, American Nurse Today


Involving staff nurses in research can be challenging, but is possible. At The Queens Medical Center, the largest private, not for profit, acute care hospital in Hawaii, we forged a partnership with the University of Hawaii (Manoa) School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) to promote participation of staff nurses in research. One of our first projects was a smoking cessation study. In this article, I describe how the partnership works and the outcomes of the study.

Building the partnership

Barriers that can hinder staff nurse participation in research include lack of knowledge about research, insufficient management support, limited time, inadequate funding, and the production of research findings not applicable to the clinical nurses' practice.

Our partnership was designed to break down these barriers.

A clinical nurse interested in a particular research question or area was paired with a faculty member who had research expertise in the area of interest. The faculty member provided expertise in research design and proposal writing, and the staff nurse provided clinical expertise that helped in designing interventions.

Working together, the two submitted a seed research grant proposal to the Cooperative Research Partnership Review Committee, composed of representatives from SONDH and the Queen's Medical Center, for funding. The partnership grant helped to break down barriers by providing funds for time spent on the project and administrative support. Approval of research protocols was received from both agencies' institutional review board.

Providing resources

The medical center's nursing institute funded informational sessions and research workshops for interested staff nurses and provided support for dissemination of research findings through reimbursement of conference fees. The article Nursing Research Fellowship: building nursing research infrastructure in a hospital further discusses steps taken to build the medical center's nursing research infrastructure.

The chief nursing officer (CNO) budgeted 8 hours of paid time a month for the lead staff nurse researcher; it was up to the researcher to use the paid time to accomplish what needed to be done. The unit's nurse manager allocated additional paid time for the rest of the selected staff nurse researchers and provided paid time off for them to attend informational sessions. There was also in-kind support provided by the CNO and unit-based manager in the form of use of existing resources such as the computer room, printers, telephones, and a secured cabinet to store research data.

The SONDH research office provided statistical assistance and handled the grant funding process. Faculty members received workload credit to participate in research and scholarship. The research partnership team jointly worked on resolving emerging problems, analysis, and dissemination of findings.

Identifying a research idea

Often performance improvement projects can lead to the development of research questions, and this was the case with the study related to smoking cessation, part of the initial cohort of research projects in the partnership. The study grew out of a staff nurse's project on a medical unit where patients are generally admitted for pneumonia, heart failure, diabetes, cellulitis, and GI bleeding.

The research was a feasibility intervention using staff RNs as smoking cessation coaches to teach smokers under their care. The staff nurses were already assessing patients' smoking status and providing smoking cessation education; funding for the project enabled staff to be trained for the intervention. The nurses in the intervention arm were certified in basic tobacco intervention skills by the state department of health. The team also attended a daylong motivational interviewing course taught by an external expert consultant.

Participants in the study were patients 18 years of age or older who smoked and were admitted or transferred to the study medical unit. …

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