Extent and factors influencing research utilization among critical care nurses




Thompson, Cathy

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Nurses have a professional responsibility to use appropriate research findings in their clinical practice. In critical care, many scientifically validated findings are immediately available for utilization by the individual nurse; however, the extent of current research utilization among critical care nurses had not been adequately examined. The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze the relationships between (a) the characteristics of individual innovativeness among critical care nurses, (b) the characteristics of the organizational system, and (c) the influence of communication channels on the use of research findings in critical care nursing practice. The theoretical framework underlying the study was Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations theory (1983).

The instruments consisted of a modified form of the Nursing Practice Questionnaire (NPQ) developed by Brett (1987) made specific to critical care. Questions following each nursing practice were designed to determine the nurse's stage in the innovation-decision process. The Research Factor Questionnaire (RFQ) was designed to elicit demographic information and ascertain individual characteristics of innovativeness, perception of organizational characteristics, and use of communication channels as they relate to research utilization.

A descriptive-correlational, survey design using a random sample of critical care nurses who provide direct bedside care and who belong to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) was used. Two hundred twelve responses (42% return rate) were analyzed using descriptive and correlational statistics. Factor analysis was performed to determine if Rogers' proposed variables fit the model.

The results suggest that critical care nurses are using research findings in practice to a greater extent than nurses in earlier studies. The Diffusion of Innovations theory was deemed appropriate to explain research utilization in individual nursing practice, though its use is questionable for explaining practice mandated by the institution. Factor analysis of the variables describing characteristics of individual innovativeness resulted in a 5-factor solution that validated Rogers' generalizations. The factors were labeled organizational culture, communication channels, research involvement, research attitude, and professional characteristics. Research utilization was positively associated with characteristics of individual innovativeness and communication channel influences. Organizational culture was not positively associated with research utilization. Years of nursing experience were inversely correlated with research utilization. Implications for nursing practice, education, and administration are presented.



Critical care, Health services utilization