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The influence of organizational context on the use of research by nurses in Canadian pediatric hospitals

Janet E Squires12*, Carole A Estabrooks3, Shannon D Scott3, Greta G Cummings3, Leslie Hayduk4, Sung Hyun Kang3 and Bonnie Stevens56

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada

2 School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

3 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

4 Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

5 The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

6 Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:351  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-351

Published: 14 September 2013



Organizational context is recognized as an important influence on the successful implementation of research by healthcare professionals. However, there is relatively little empirical evidence to support this widely held view.


The objective of this study was to identify dimensions of organizational context and individual (nurse) characteristics that influence pediatric nurses’ self-reported use of research. Data on research use, individual, and contextual variables were collected from registered nurses (N = 735) working on 32 medical, surgical and critical care units in eight Canadian pediatric hospitals using an online survey. We used Generalized Estimating Equation modeling to account for the correlated structure of the data and to identify which contextual dimensions and individual characteristics predict two kinds of self-reported research use: instrumental (direct) and conceptual (indirect).


Significant predictors of instrumental research use included: at the individual level; belief suspension-implement, research use in the past, and at the hospital unit (context) level; culture, and the proportion on nurses possessing a baccalaureate degree or higher. Significant predictors of conceptual research use included: at the individual nurse level; belief suspension-implement, problem solving ability, use of research in the past, and at the hospital unit (context) level; leadership, culture, evaluation, formal interactions, informal interactions, organizational slack-space, and unit specialty.


Hospitals, by focusing attention on modifiable elements of unit context may positively influence nurses’ reported use of research. This influence of context may extend to the adoption of best practices in general and other innovative or quality interventions.