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Mentors may help accelerate the shift toward evidence-based nursing practice

Less than half (46 percent) of nurses say that their practices are based on clinical research evidence, according to a survey supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13817). The survey of 160 nurses who were attending evidence-based practice (EBP) conferences or workshops in four Eastern States revealed that the nurses believed in the benefit of EBP, but their knowledge about it was relatively weak. Fortunately, some nurses do have EBP mentors who may play a key role in accelerating the shift toward evidence-based nursing practice, suggests Bernadette Melnyk, R.N., Ph.D., C.P.N.P., F.A.A.N., of the Arizona State University College of Nursing.

Dr. Melnyk and her colleagues used the survey to explore the level of nurses' knowledge and beliefs about EBP, the extent to which their practices are evidence-based, and the relationship between the two. Although the nurses surveyed strongly believed that practice rooted in evidence improved the clinical care of patients and patient outcomes, their knowledge about EBP was weak. Overall, 42 percent of nurses surveyed reported barriers to EBP implementation, including insufficient time, lack of access to resources (for example, current literature, Internet), lack of financial support, closed minds ("we have always done it this way"), lack of knowledge, lack of support (for example, from management or physicians), and the need for a mentor.

Fortunately, 44 percent of nurses surveyed reported that there were facilitators (for example, faculty or clinical nurse specialists) who helped them to integrate research evidence into practice for specific initiatives. Forty-nine percent of the nurses indicated that they had mentors (nursing faculty, national nursing leaders or speakers, advanced practice nurses, nursing administrators, and physician colleagues) who facilitated their EBP endeavors.

See "Nurses' perceived knowledge, beliefs, skills, and needs regarding evidence-based practice: Implications for accelerating the paradigm shift," by Dr. Melnyk, Ellen Fineout-Overholt, R.N., Ph.D., Nancy F. Feinstein, R.N., C.S., Ph.D., and others, in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing 1(3), pp. 185-193, 2004.

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