Translating research findings to clinical nursing practice

J Clin Nurs. 2017 Mar;26(5-6):862-872. doi: 10.1111/jocn.13586. Epub 2016 Nov 22.


Aims and objectives: To describe the importance of, and methods for, successfully conducting and translating research into clinical practice.

Background: There is universal acknowledgement that the clinical care provided to individuals should be informed on the best available evidence. Knowledge and evidence derived from robust scholarly methods should drive our clinical practice, decisions and change to improve the way we deliver care. Translating research evidence to clinical practice is essential to safe, transparent, effective and efficient healthcare provision and meeting the expectations of patients, families and society. Despite its importance, translating research into clinical practice is challenging. There are more nurses in the frontline of health care than any other healthcare profession. As such, nurse-led research is increasingly recognised as a critical pathway to practical and effective ways of improving patient outcomes. However, there are well-established barriers to the conduct and translation of research evidence into practice.

Design: This clinical practice discussion paper interprets the knowledge translation literature for clinicians interested in translating research into practice.

Methods: This paper is informed by the scientific literature around knowledge translation, implementation science and clinician behaviour change, and presented from the nurse clinician perspective. We provide practical, evidence-informed suggestions to overcome the barriers and facilitate enablers of knowledge translation. Examples of nurse-led research incorporating the principles of knowledge translation in their study design that have resulted in improvements in patient outcomes are presented in conjunction with supporting evidence.

Conclusions: Translation should be considered in research design, including the end users and an evaluation of the research implementation. The success of research implementation in health care is dependent on clinician/consumer behaviour change and it is critical that implementation strategy includes this.

Relevance to practice: Translating best research evidence can make for a more transparent and sustainable healthcare service, to which nurses are central.

Keywords: behaviour change; clinical practice; evidence based; evidence informed; implementation science; knowledge translation; nursing; research; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Nursing Research / methods*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Care / organization & administration*