Journal of Professional Nursing

Practice nurse use of evidence in clinical practice: A descriptive survey

Patsy Prior, MN, RN, Team Leader, Child and Family Service, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland
Jill Wilkinson, PhD, RN, Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Social Services, Massey University, Wellington
Stephen Neville, PhD, RN, Senior Lecturer & Postgraduate Programme Co-ordinator, School of Health and Social Services, Massey University, Auckland

Reference:  Prior, P., Wilkinson, J., & Neville, S. (2010). Practice nurse use of evidence in clinical practice: A descriptive survey. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 26(2), 14-25.


The role of practice nurses is a specific feature of the modernisation agenda of the New Zealand health service. Increasing importance is being placed on service improvement through effective decision making and enhanced clinical performance. To contribute to the development of primary health care it is crucial that nurses have the skills to appropriately implement research based and other evidence in practice.

This study involved 55 West Auckland practice nurses working in the general practice setting. The aim of the study was to describe nurses’ perceptions of their use of evidence-based practice, attitudes toward evidence-based practice and perceptions of their knowledge/skills associated with evidence-based practice. An additional aim was to determine the effect of educational preparation on practice, attitudes and knowledge/skills toward evidence-based practice. A descriptive survey design was selected for this study. The results demonstrated that nurses’ attitudes toward evidence-based practice, knowledge and skills relevant to the implementation of evidence-based practice and the educational preparation of the nurses were important factors influencing the effective utilisation and application of research results in practice.

Educational interventions are identified as an integral aspect of implementing evidence-based practice and enhancing practice nurses’ knowledge and skill relevant to the use of evidence in practice. Further research is needed to assess the contextual factors which can inhibit or promote achievement of evidence-based practice by practice nurses.

Evidence-based practice, primary health care, nursing, education

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