Article Content

Over the past decades, nursing research initiatives, both individual and collaborative, have yielded new knowledge that has challenged existing policies and practices to increase safe, cost-effective, efficient, and high-quality patient care. Despite this generation of knowledge, often supported by national funding, there remains a gap between the volume of work produced and its use by clinicians, administrators and planners, and policy makers. It is essential that this new knowledge is translated and incorporated into clinical practice and subsequent research initiatives to continue the evolution and growth of nursing science and knowledge to improve healthcare.

 

To increase nurses' awareness of the importance of translating research into practice and policy, at the 17th Annual Scientific Sessions, the Eastern Nursing Research Society, and its cosponsor, Columbia University School of Nursing, generated a program that highlighted the importance of translating academic and interdisciplinary research activities to enhance quality patient care. The conference was held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, April 7-9, 2005, and focused its call for research presentations around the topic of Translational Research for Quality Outcomes: Affecting Practice and Healthcare Policy. Presentations highlighted translational research initiatives that focused on clinical and academic partnerships, research initiatives studied across patient settings and populations, research strategies and methodologies used to examine a variety of data sets, effectiveness initiatives, and evaluation of projects designed to improve quality outcomes for patients and families and enhance the care delivery environment.

 

In an effort to share some of the outstanding research presented at this conference, a Dissemination Grant was sought and obtained from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality under the leadership of Elaine Larson, PhD, RN (Columbia University), to support a supplement to the journal Nursing Research. After peer review of potential manuscripts, 11 were chosen for this publication. These articles reflect multiple strategies used by nurses to investigate, implement, and translate research into healthcare.

 

Rigorous evaluation of interventions is a prerequisite to their application in practice. Within this supplement, Mahoney et al. and Erlen and Sereika discuss the challenges associated with intervention delivery in randomized controlled trials in Alzheimer's disease and HIV medication adherence, respectively. Manuscripts by Horowitz and Cousins and Eller etal. report descriptive correlation analyses related to significant clinical problems that are targets for future intervention research. Horowitz and Cousins describe inadequate treatment rates for postpartum depression and discuss possible barriers to referral and treatment. Eller et al. compare the quality of life before and after three types of treatment of prostate cancer and examine the predictors of quality of life in men with prostate cancer. Three articles describe the analytic approaches of relevance to translational research. Kaufman et al. illustrate, with examples drawn from five research studies, the application of a variety of methodological approaches to the evaluation of informatics innovations. Happ et al. provide exemplars of mixed-methods data analysis from four different clinical research projects. Using examples of research conducted with three large data sets, Magee et al. discuss issues including the selection of appropriate data set, operationalization of variables, and threats to reliability and validity. Two articles specifically address models for translation of research into practice. Tracy et al. illustrate the application of the Collaborative Research Utilization model to translate empirically tested nondrug interventions for surgical pain management enhancement into practice and report the impact on patient knowledge, attitudes, and use of nondrug interventions. Sakala and Mayberry describe the elements of a research translation model as applied by the Maternity Center Association to inform and support diverse end users with regard to decisions on vaginal versus cesarean birth. Panik et al. discuss the outcomes of an innovative collaborative learning approach on learning of research concepts and application of the concepts to address issues related to quality of care in a Level 1 trauma center's emergency department. The routine measurement of nursing-sensitive outcomes is critical to measuring the impact of translational nursing research. In a sample of patients from acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities, Doran et al. provide evidence on the reliability of instruments used to measure nursing-sensitive outcomes and the sensitivity of the outcome tools to change in patient condition.

 

These articles explicate issues associated with conducting translational research and highlight approaches and strategies that are more broadly applicable. It is essential that nursing research address quality health outcomes at the individual, family, system, and population levels and that positive research results are translated into practice and healthcare policy. The articles contained within this supplement offer the reader multiple strategies for effectively translating research into practice and evaluating its effectiveness on healthcare.

 

Suzanne Bakken, RN, DNSc, FAAN

 

Guest Coeditor

 

Columbia University

 

suzanne.bakken@dbmi.columbia.edu

 

Dorothy A. Jones, RNc, EdD, FAAN

 

Guest Coeditor

 

Boston College

 

djones9@partners.org