Journal of Professional Nursing

A Survey of Mental Health Nurses’ Opinion of Barriers and Supports for Research

Brian N. Phillips, RN, DipAppSc (Nursing), MSc (Mental Health) Mental Health Research Nurse, Graduate School of Nursing & Midwifery, Victoria University of Wellington

Reference:  Phillips, B. N. (2005). A survey of mental health nurses’ opinion of barriers and supports for research. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 21(1), 24- 32.


The need to demonstrate efficacy, efficiency and quality of practice through research is acknowledged in mental health nursing standards of practice. Yet the findings of a preliminary survey of two local District Health Boards (DHBs) shows that high workloads and lack of relief staffing appear as the greatest hurdles to mental health nurses participating in practice-based nursing research. A further constraint on their participation is lack of research expertise and experience. Consultative discussions with senior mental health nurses support these conclusions. In this paper mentoring and flexible research designs are promoted as possible ways of overcoming these barriers.

Clinical nursing research, research support, mental health nursing, practice development

In 1999 the International Council of Nurses (ICN) published a position paper on nursing research reflecting a consensus view that nursing research is necessary to generate new knowledge and to inform and evaluate education, management and practice (ICN, 1999). While the last few decades has seen a steady increase in nursing research, including greater numbers of nurses with postgraduate research preparation, it remains necessary to further increase research activity and quality. Additionally various writers have highlighted the need for greater efforts to better integrate research findings into mental health nursing practice (Happell, 2004; McKenna, 1995; Veeramah, 1995). This article reports a preliminary survey of mental health nurses in two New Zealand DHBs with respect to their interest in participating in nursing research within their work setting, the hurdles they perceive themselves facing in this regard, and the supports they see as likely to be useful to facilitate their participation.

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