1. Alexander, Mary BS, CRNI

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FIGURE. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.

The start of a new year brings many opportunities for change in our professional lives. For many of us, it is a time to break with tradition and make new strides by using research that will advance our practices and improve the quality of care we deliver. In the last 10 years, there has been a growing attention to research utilization that leads to evidence-based practice (EBP). We're proud of the Journal of Infusion Nursing's position as a forum for new research that can help change existing-and in many cases, outdated-care methods. So what exactly is EBP and how can we apply current research to improve and advance infusion care?


EBP is the process of applying published scholarly research to everyday practice to achieve improved patient outcomes and cost -effectiveness, or to set new standards. More and more, organizations are turning to EBP as a way to improve patient outcomes, safeguard against adverse events, and aid in risk management and litigation. But many infusion nurses tell us that they are confused about how to bring evidence to bear on their daily practices. The first step that many organizations take is gathering a "tool box" of research. For infusion nurses, research should include not only studies published in this clinical journal, but also those specialties that intersect with infusion practices: radiology, oncology, infection control, and pharmacology, to name a few. During this phase, clinicians should be vigilant about the quality of the research that they choose to include. Evaluating the size of studies, control factors, and other statistical data can help in judging the reliability of the research and will help clinicians to determine how much they rely on that data when implementing new practices. This is especially true for clinicians who suspect that their organization's EBP might not be based on the most current research.


The process of implementing research into daily practice is an area that, as of now, is less well defined. Some organizations form committees who produce reports on the gathered evidence to support a new practice. If the report shows a thorough and critical evaluation of the evidence that is compelling, implementation can move ahead. In other health systems, it may be a single nurse manager who compiles research-sometimes including studies performed at his or her own facility-and presents it to a practice committee before changes can be made.


INS recognizes that every organization is different in its implementation process, so we would like to hear from you on this matter. If you have found a method for applying new evidence, share it with your fellow infusion professionals through the Journal of Infusion Nursing. Implementation of EBP is a group effort. For nurses to be able to effect change in organizational policy, it is important to stay abreast of new research and be able to show how its implementation will have a positive effect on the staff, patient outcomes, and cost savings.


Members of INS can read more about EBP in our member newsletter, Newsline. Beginning in the September/October 2003 issue, we have been running a 3-part series on aspects of EBP, including the validation of nursing practice through research, implementation of EBP, and legal aspects. So take the next step in improving patient outcomes by incorporating new research into your practice. It could make all the difference in the care you provide.