Background: Interventions that have a better than random chance of increasing nurses' use of research are important to the delivery of quality patient care. However, few reports exist of successful research utilization in nursing interventions. Systematic identification and evaluation of individual characteristics associated with and predicting research utilization may inform the development of research utilization interventions.
Objective: To update the evidence published in a previous systematic review on individual characteristics influencing research utilization by nurses.
Methods: As part of a larger systematic review on research utilization instruments, 12 online bibliographic databases were searched. Hand searching of specialized journals and an ancestry search was also conducted. Randomized controlled trials, clinical trials, and observational study designs examining the association between individual characteristics and nurses' use of research were eligible for inclusion. Studies were limited to those published in the English, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian languages. A vote counting approach to data synthesis was taken.
Results: A total of 42,770 titles were identified, of which 501 were retrieved. Of these 501 articles, 45 satisfied our inclusion criteria. Articles assessed research utilization in general (n = 39) or kinds of research utilization (n = 6) using self-report survey measures. Individual nurse characteristics were classified according to six categories: beliefs and attitudes, involvement in research activities, information seeking, education, professional characteristics, and socio-demographic/socio-economic characteristics. A seventh category, critical thinking, emerged in studies examining kinds of research utilization. Positive relationships, at statistically significant levels, for general research utilization were found in four categories: beliefs and attitudes, information seeking, education, and professional characteristics. The only characteristic assessed in a sufficient number of studies and with consistent findings for the kinds of research utilization was attitude towards research; this characteristic had a positive association with instrumental and overall research utilization.
Conclusions: This review reinforced conclusions in the previous review with respect to positive relationships between general research utilization and: beliefs and attitudes, and current role. Furthermore, attending conferences/in-services, having a graduate degree in nursing, working in a specialty area, and job satisfaction were also identified as individual characteristics important to research utilization. While these findings hold promise as potential targets of future research utilization interventions, there were methodological problems inherent in many of the studies that necessitate their findings be replicated in further research using more robust study designs and multivariate assessment methods.