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Int J Nurs Stud. 2004 Jul;41(5):471-86.

Training needs analysis. A literature review and reappraisal.

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St Bartholomew's School of Nursing and Midwifery, 20, St Bartholomew's Close, City University, EC1 A7QN, UK.


Training needs analysis is the initial step in a cyclical process which contributes to the overall training and educational strategy of staff in an organisation or a professional group. The cycle commences with a systematic consultation to identify the learning needs of the population considered, followed by course planning, delivery and evaluation. Although much has been written about training needs analysis in relation to post-registration nursing education, there is disagreement concerning its impact on the training cycle and its potential to influence service delivery. This stimulated the literature review presented below. Initial searches of nursing databases identified 266 works. Twenty three (8.6%) contained empirical findings relating to post-registration nursing education in which assessment of training needs was presented as the major aim. Most of these accounts were concerned with the training needs of nurses in more than one organisation and were classified as macro-level training needs analysis. However, seven studies were concerned with a single, specific organisation (micro-level training needs analysis). Despite their smaller scale and more limited scope, micro-level training needs initiatives demonstrated greater methodological rigour, were more likely to consider the stakeholder perspective, to generate findings which could positively influence the rest of the training cycle and showed the greatest potential for influencing service delivery and quality of patient care. The review drew attention to the similarities between the training cycle and the audit cycle and resulted in the development of a model which could be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the process and outcomes of future training needs analysis initiatives.

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