Figuring it out in the moment: a theory of unregulated care providers' knowledge utilization in dementia care settings

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2008;5(1):13-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-6787.2008.00114.x.


Background: Within the context of knowledge translation, the disconnect between the results of research and the practice patterns of nursing care providers has not been reported in the context of institutional dementia care practice. Therefore, little is known about how knowledge about best dementia care practice, defined broadly as the person-centered approach, gets used by institutional nursing care providers.

Aim: Unregulated care providers provide the majority of nursing care for older people with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders living in long-term care facilities. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the process whereby these workers use knowledge about person-centered care in their dementia care practice.

Methods: Transcribed data from tape-recorded interviews with 20 unregulated care providers among eight long-term care facilities in Ontario, Canada, were coded and categorized at progressively more abstract levels until concepts and the relationships among them were integrated in a middle-range theory of knowledge utilization.

Results: The theory of Figuring it Out in the Moment illustrates how unregulated care providers in dementia care settings practice in the context of unpredictability, variability, and personal threat. Their use of knowledge about person-centered care is dependent on the existence of certain individual and relational conditions that interrelate with four separate, but interconnected, phases of clinical decision-making and action.

Conclusions: As a middle-range theory, Figuring it Out in the Moment is concrete and pragmatic information for promoting evidence-based dementia care not included in existing overarching knowledge utilization frameworks. Areas for further investigation include how knowledge utilization is conceptualized, as well as the influences of practitioners' clinical decision-making, the nature of caregiving with particular client populations, and the characteristics of individuals alone and in relationship on the utilization of best practice knowledge.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Long-Term Care
  • Nursing Homes
  • Ontario
  • Patient-Centered Care*