Why should I participate in nursing research?

By Marian Altman, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, CCRN-K Jul 14, 2020

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When someone mentions research, do some of the following thoughts come to mind?

When someone mentions research, do some of the following thoughts come to mind? Nursing research is important, but I don’t have time. Nursing research is vital to move the profession forward, but I think it’s boring. Nursing research contributes to the empirical body of knowledge, and the criteria necessary for professional status, but research is too complicated and I don’t really understand it. If so, you are not alone.

Nursing research started with Florence Nightingale. She measured illness and infection rates among wounded soldiers in the Crimean War and used those results to petition the British government to improve conditions.

Think about it…Without research, Flo wouldn’t have been able to convince others that sanitation was important to surviving sepsis. This is one reason that research, especially nursing research, is important. Through research, we demonstrate our contribution to health and wellness, answer questions about our practice and confirm our knowledge. The purpose of nursing research from her time until today is to provide empirical evidence to support nursing practice and help us provide excellent patient care.

Participation Barriers

Personal and environmental barriers to participating in nursing research include the following:

  • I’m too busy with work.
  • Nursing research is for graduate-prepared nurses.
  • There’s too much math and statistics.
  • I don’t understand research methodology.
  • My organization’s culture doesn’t support clinical nurse research participation.
  • I don’t work at a Magnet hospital, so I don’t need to know about research.
  • I have other priorities.
  • I’m not interested in the research.
  • I won’t use nursing research.

Participation Benefits

Here’s how nursing research impacts you, our nursing community and ultimately patients and families:

  • Improves nursing activities, interventions or approaches to enhance professional practice
  • Addresses current issues such as COVID-19
  • Helps improve patient outcomes, reduce the length of stay in hospitals and costs
  • Helps improve your quality of life, your work environment and your health
  • Shapes health policy and the healthcare model to optimize the health and well-being of all populations, which helps prevent, diagnose and cure diseases
  • Improves the health and well-being of people around the world
  • Offers possible compensation for your participation
  • Ensures nursing practice remains relevant and supportive, and protects our patients.
  • The ANA Code of Ethics, Provision 7, encourages nurses to participate in the advancement of the profession through knowledge development, evaluation and application to practice.

You can support research by participating in a study. Access AACN's webpage, Participate in Research Studies, which lists a variety of nursing research opportunities. Select a study that speaks to you and your values and participate if you can. You can also bookmark this page and check it regularly, as new studies are added frequently. We can help improve nursing practice and the patient experience by participating in nursing research.

Please tell us about the research you are supporting in your unit, your organization or elsewhere.