Applying qualitative research findings in nursing practice: Revisiting old problems
Lipscomb, M. (2011) Applying qualitative research findings in nursing practice: Revisiting old problems. In: 15th International Philosophy of Nursing Conference: In Association with the International Philosophy of Nursing Society (IPONS), Dundee, UK, 26th - 28th August, 2011.
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Nursing students are introduced to qualitative methods and methodologies during research awareness training and in many countries this training constitutes a compulsory element in pre-registration (pre-licensure) educational programmes. Regulators such as the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council also instruct nurses to ground practice on best available evidence and, since this directive is methodologically neutral or permissive, it must be assumed that qualitative work counts as evidence. Moreover, a great deal of nursing research is or includes a qualitative component. It might therefore be concluded that qualitative research findings are or can be action guiding. After all, if there was any ambiguity, if this form of investigation could not beneficially effect nurse-patient interactions then, since nurses claim that theirs is a practice based profession, educators, regulators and researchers would presumably make this clear to practitioners and students and, in consequence, this methodology would have less prominence. However, before this conclusion is allowed several longstanding and difficult questions must be recognised. For example, if agere sequitur credere (action follows belief) then what kinds of belief can nurses, as research users, justifiably derive from or form on the basis of qualitative evidence and, as importantly, what sorts of action do these beliefs sanction? What does it mean to say that qualitative research affords understanding or insight to those who read these reports? How exactly are qualitative research findings action guiding? This presentation re-examines some of the unresolved and possibly irresolvable issues around transference and application. Evaluative criteria for establishing the success or otherwise of transferability/application are discussed.