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J Adv Nurs. 2011 Aug;67(8):1705-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05610.x. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

Towards better measures of research utilization: a collaborative study in Canada and Sweden.

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University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



This paper is a report of a study examining research utilization in nursing. The specific aims were to (1) clarify the construct of research utilization, and (2) identify observable indicators of research utilization.


Robust measures of research utilization do not exist despite steadily increasing numbers of studies in the field. One reason for this is theoretical confusion surrounding the central concepts in the field.


A qualitative (focus group) design was used to explore the construct of research utilization in two countries: Canada and Sweden. A systematic and sequential (three phases) approach to expert sampling framed the study. Phase 1 consisted of initial construct clarification by the research team (2005). In Phase 2, a face-to-face meeting with a panel of international research utilization nursing experts was held (2005). Phase 3 consisted of a series of focus groups with nursing care (direct and non-direct) providers (2005-2007). Data were analysed using content analysis.


The nursing care providers did not commonly use the term 'research utilization'. Several examples of research utilization were provided; a majority of these examples related to instrumental research utilization and became increasingly concrete as one moved from non-direct to direct care participants. Participants identified several indicators of research utilization (instrumental and conceptual). From these indicators, a measurement schematic was derived.


The construct of research utilization is multi-faceted. Several indicators of research utilization were identified, which can be used to augment existing or develop a new and improved measure that taps both instrumental and conceptual use.

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