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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The relationship between characteristics of context and research utilization in a pediatric setting

Greta G Cummings12*, Alison M Hutchinson23, Shannon D Scott1, Peter G Norton4 and Carole A Estabrooks1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, 3rd Floor, Clinical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Alberta, AB, T6G 2G3, Canada

2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Medicine Nursing & Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, Australia

3 Cabrini-Deakin Centre for Nursing Research, Cabrini Institute, Cabrini Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

4 Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, UCMC North Hill, 1707, 1632 - 14 Avenue NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1M7, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:168  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-168

Published: 16 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Research utilization investigators have called for more focused examination of the influence of context on research utilization behaviors. Yet, up until recently, lack of instrumentation to identify and quantify aspects of organizational context that are integral to research use has significantly hampered these efforts. The Alberta Context Tool (ACT) was developed to assess the relationships between organizational factors and research utilization by a variety of healthcare professional groups. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from a pilot study using the ACT to elicit pediatric and neonatal healthcare professionals' perceptions of the organizational context in which they work and their use of research to inform practice. Specifically, we report on the relationship between dimensions of context, founded on the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework, and self-reported research use behavior.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey approach was employed using a version of the ACT, modified specifically for pediatric settings. The survey was administered to nurses working in three pediatric units in Alberta, Canada. Scores for three dimensions of context (culture, leadership and evaluation) were used to categorize respondent data into one of four context groups (high, moderately high, moderately low and low). We then examined the relationships between nurses' self-reported research use and their perceived context.

Results

A 69% response rate was achieved. Statistically significant differences in nurses' perceptions of culture, leadership and evaluation, and self-reported conceptual research use were found across the three units. Differences in instrumental research use across the three groups of nurses by unit were not significant. Higher self-reported instrumental and conceptual research use by all nurses in the sample was associated with more positive perceptions of their context.

Conclusions

Overall, the results of this study lend support to the view that more positive contexts are associated with higher reports of research use in practice. These findings have implications for organizational endeavors to promote evidence-informed practice and maximize the quality of care. Importantly, these findings can be used to guide the development of interventions to target modifiable characteristics of organizational context that are influential in shaping research use behavior.