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Nurs Outlook. 2004 Sep-Oct;52(5):248-54.

Identification of national trends in nursing education through the use of an online survey.

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College of Nursing, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202-9025, USA.


Increased access and familiarity with computer technology has enhanced research data collection and analysis processes. Use of the Internet in these processes is rapidly becoming an alternative to traditional paper and pencil methods and can be a useful tool in conducting nursing education research. The purpose of this article is to discuss the use of online survey methodologies to identify nursing education trends and disseminate information nationwide. Advantages, disadvantages and pitfalls of using e-mail in conducting a Web-based survey are presented. The authors describe relevant aspects of developing and implementing an online survey; relate their experience in using this survey method with regard to its strengths and limitations; and, comment regarding efficacy of electronic collection and analysis of research data. The authors' experience in conducting a previously published national study of the integration of holistic nursing practices and complementary and alternative modalities in curricula of baccalaureate and higher degree schools of nursing is used as an exemplar. The authors conclude that, regardless of the current status of technology and lack of computer support in some schools of nursing, an online national survey is a valuable tool in conducting research in nursing education and increasingly will be the method of choice for gathering survey data.

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