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J Nurs Scholarsh. 2012 Jun;44(2):171-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2012.01449.x. Epub 2012 May 3.

Practice-based evidence and qualitative inquiry.

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  • 1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Nurses and other healthcare providers continue to underuse interventions demonstrated to be effective at improving health outcomes. We propose in this article that if more evidence-based practice is wanted, greater use must be made of qualitative inquiry to obtain practice-based evidence derived from the experiences and practices of healthcare providers and the contexts of healthcare provision.


We present a framework for the use of qualitative methods to contribute to the following categories of practice-based evidence: (a) practice-based interventions and implementation strategies, (b) causal mechanisms, (c) approaches to adaptation, (d) how-to guidance, (e) unanticipated effects, and (f) relevant contextual factors.


Qualitative inquiry has an essential role to play in incorporating more practice-based evidence into the evidence base for nursing practice.


This framework can be used by clinicians to plan for the implementation of interventions in practice, by researchers to discuss the practice implications of their findings, and by researchers to launch qualitative studies explicitly designed to capture practice-based evidence.

© 2012 Sigma Theta Tau International.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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