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Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research: Avoiding Confusion

February 02, 2010

The ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) requires hospitals to have evidence-based practice embedded in the culture of the organization. In the documentation, hospitals must demonstrate that nurses evaluate and use published research in all aspects of clinical and operational processes.

The ANCC also expects nurses to conduct research projects and that knowledge from these projects will be shared with nurses within and outside the organization.

Although the two requirements have the potential for overlapping concepts in the minds of many nurses, evidence-based practice and research projects are distinctly different—and, if the differences are not recognized, it is possible for an organization's documentation to fail to adequately explain how it meets both requirements.

Evidence-based practice
What is evidence-based practice in the most basic terms? Evidence-based practice looks at research findings, quality improvement data and other forms of evaluation data, and expert opinion to identify methods of improvement.

It's identifying what exactly differentiates evidence-based practice from research that can be challenging for staff members.

"Evidence-based practice is used to close the gap between the research being conducted and the practice—the 'research/practice gap,' " says Marquetta Flaugher, ARNP-BC, DSN, an APN at Bay Pines (FL) VA Hospital.

Evidence-based practice challenges nurses to look at the "why" behind existing methods and processes in the search for improvement.

"So much is based on opinion and tradition, and we can't do that anymore," says Flaugher. "We need to use evidence and speak that language."


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