Searching for the intervention in intervention research reports

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2008;40(1):52-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2007.00206.x.


Purpose: Precisely described interventions in nursing research reports are essential as a foundation for nursing practice and to facilitate future research. The purpose of this project was to characterize the intervention descriptions in nursing intervention research reports.

Design and methods: Quantitative content analysis was used to analyze intervention descriptions in reports published in English-language general nursing journals during 2005. Normative analysis was used to examine reports for details related to intervention content and delivery. Physical unit analysis was used to compare relative amounts of article space devoted to intervention description vs. other methodological details.

Findings: Results were tabulated for 141 research articles published in 27 journals. Analysis indicated incomplete reporting of intervention details in many articles. Dose and dosing frequency were rarely completely defined. Delivery setting and interventionist were frequently not indicated, and the professional credentials of nurse interventionists were often unclear. While descriptions of interventions involving substances or devices were typically detailed, the specifics of psychological, educational, behavioral, and systems-level interventions were often lacking. Intervention descriptions averaged 7.27% of total article space, whereas nonintervention methodological descriptions averaged 20.74% of space. Of studies examined, only 38 (27.0%) reported enough detail to potentially replicate the study or translate the intervention into practice.

Conclusions: Intervention descriptions in general nursing journals lack sufficient detail to provide the evidence basis for practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Humans
  • Nursing Research*
  • Publishing / standards*
  • Research Design*
  • Writing*