In a previous post, I talked about the research-practice gap, also known as the evidence-practice gap. This phenomenon is not a figment of our past but is still a problem struggled with today (Agbedia, Okoronkwo, Onokayeigho, & Agbo, 2014; Curtis, Fry, Shaban, & Considine, 2016; Middlebrooks, Carter-Templeton, & Mund, 2016).
Of course, research takes time! From planning to funding to the conduct of the study (i.e., sample recruitment to data analysis) can take years, depending on the research design. The writing of the manuscript and submission to a journal — rewrites and resubmissions – another, possibly, significant period of time.
Then the study then needs to be found, read, critiqued, and translated into practice. An oft-quoted “fact” in EBP is that it takes 17 years for an innovation to be implemented into practice from the time of publication of the original research to use at the bedside (Morris, Wooding, & Grant, 2011). That’s quite a time lag!
The research-practice gap effectively stalls the translation of evidence into practice (EBP). If nurses are not aware of research findings or can’t find or critique relevant studies, they won’t use research and other valid evidence in practice. Many nurse researchers have focused on identifying barriers to research use. While some of these barriers have been overcome, many still exist. In this post, I’ll talk about some common reasons for why the research-practice gap still exists in healthcare and nursing.
Common Reasons for the Research-Practice GapKnowledge of the research process and skills related to EBP are core competencies for nurses caring for today’s complex patients (IOM, 2010). Many articles and editorials have been written in an attempt to explain the disparity between the publication of research findings and their utilization (i.e., the research-practice gap). Nurse leaders have studied barriers to the use of research and evidence in practice for a very long time (Thompson, 1997). Much of this “barriers” research was published in the 1980s and 1990s. (I’m not going to cite all of these authors, but if you are interested in these seminal and classic works, email me [email@example.com] and I’ll send you a list!)
My research interests have mainly focused on individual and organizational factors related to research utilization and evidence-based practice. Barriers to research use have been identified in three main categories: professional, organizational, and personal. All of these factors affect the rate and ease with which nurses use research and evidence in professional, clinical, and teaching practice.