Academic Nurses Engage Clinical Nurses to Implement Research-Based Knowledge in Hospital Setting

A pair of researchers sought to describe academic nurses’ experiences engaging clinical nurses when implementing research-based knowledge in hospital settings.

By developing a practice-related research culture, academic nurses can successfully engage clinical nurses in research and development, which can be used to help solve practical problems in nursing, according to study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice.

A pair of investigators from Denmark conducted a descriptive qualitative analysis in “to describe academic nurses’ experiences engaging clinical nurses in utilizing and implementing developmental and research-based knowledge in hospital settings.”

A total of 14 academic nurses who had a Masters or PhD level degree were included in the analysis. Data on the success of their experience in engaging clinical nurses to utilize research-based knowledge and implement their learnings were collected through qualitative semistructured interviews, which were then assessed using a qualitative manifest content analysis.

The main theme of the manifest content analysis was “creating a practice-related culture for research,” which was further subclassified into “focusing on evidence-based practice knowledge,” “facilitating knowledge through a pedagogical approach,” and “aiming for future changes.”

Focusing on Evidence-based Practice Knowledge

The first subtheme involved activities associated with research and development. The academic nurses noted that it was easier to strengthen clinical nurses’ participation in applying and implementing developmental and research-based knowledge when the activities were more focused to their relevant patient care or to their workflow. 

“The academic nurses reported a high level of confidence in the influence of their academic knowledge and competencies on their workplace and believed that they could use their abilities in many ways, for example, reflecting on and questioning current practices in the workplace and contributing to patient care through evidence-based knowledge,” the authors noted.

Clinical nurses had several ideas and academic nurses noted that some evolved into clinically relevant research and development projects. The academic nurses also reported that several successful initiatives such as competence development programs, care pathways for inpatients and for discharged patients, implanting clinical guidelines, and early warning scores, were implemented in practice in collaboration with several clinical nurses and were later implemented on a daily basis within the department.

Facilitating Knowledge Through a Pedagogical Approach

To generate a practice-related research culture, the academic nurses noted that a pedagogical approach in facilitating knowledge was much more efficient and important than academic competencies.

Academic nurses introduced and explained research literature, developed and explained research projects, and acknowledged clinical nurses’ work and celebrated successes. They also adopted humble attitudes, respected the clinical nurses’ busy schedules in practice, and worked to remain visible in the departments daily.

In addition, academic nurses involved clinical nurses in a number of hands-on research activities including questionnaire assessment, participant recruitment, and data collection to develop guidelines. They did, however, avoid involving clinical nurses in design and dissemination of research.

To create a reflection on clinical practice, the academic nurses also used bedside teaching to allow clinical nurses to implement developmental and research-based knowledge.

Aiming for Future Changes

The current activities were deemed correct and necessary by the academic nurses for the development of practice-related research culture. The academic nurses also noted that they would keep focusing on core nursing activities such as improving the quality of nursing care as well as structuring nurse workflow.

According to the academic nurses, additional changes to practice-related research culture are still necessary. For these changes to occur, “the academic nurses described the need for a deeper understanding of the value and importance of a practice-related research culture from nursing management, in terms of providing resources for research and further education at the doctoral level.” One academic nurse in the study suggested the implementation of dual-management in which there are 2 head nurses: one for practice and one for research.

“In order to develop a practice-related culture for research, recommendations for future practice are to focus on research from practice, by practice and for practice,” the authors concluded.  They added that “the continual effort to engage clinical nurses in research and development depends on cementing a practice-related culture for research within daily nursing practice.”

Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.


Berthelsen C, Koreska M. Creating a practice-related culture for research: a qualitative study of engaging clinical nurses in utilization of developmental and research-based knowledge in hospital settings. Int J Nurs Pract. Published online July 5, 2021. doi:10.1111/ijn.12990