Davies, Jacqueline, Heyman, Bob, Bryar, Rosamund, Graffy, Jonathan, Gunnell, Caroline, Lamb, Bryony and Morris, Lana (2002) The research potential of practice nurses. Health and Social Care in the Community, 10 (5). p. 370. ISSN 0966-0410

Little is known about the research aspirations and experiences of practice nurses. The study discussed in the present paper had three main aims: (1) to assess the level of research interest among practice nurses working in Essex and East London, UK; (2) to identify practice nurses' research priorities; and (3) to explore factors which facilitate and impede the development of practice nursing research. All practice nurses (n = 1054) in the above areas were sent a questionnaire, and a total of 40% (n = 426) responded after two follow-up letters. Fifty-five respondents who volunteered for further participation were interviewed, either individually or in focus groups. About half (n = 207) of the survey respondents expressed an interest in undertaking research. One-third (n = 145) reported previous participation in research, and 20% (n = 85) had initiated their own research. Logistic regression showed that practice nurses educated to graduate level, and those working in practices with nurse training or participation in external research, were most likely to want to undertake research. Working in a medical training practice was found to be a negative predictor of research interest. Respondents prioritised research into long-term health problems with a high prevalence in the local population; for example, diabetes. Their reasons for wishing to engage in research included improving the service, career development, making work more interesting and reducing isolation. The main barriers identified were lack of time, lack of support from some general practitioners and poor access to higher education resources outside formal courses. The development of practice nurse research would provide a distinctive perspective on health need and service provision. It would contribute to the achievement of the national strategic objective of improving the quality of primary care, enhance the status of the profession, utilise the enthusiasm of individuals, increase job satisfaction and staff retention, and answer real questions.

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