Supporting Nursing Research: Mentors' Perspectives on a Research Training Program for Point-of-Care Nurses

Saturday, 7 November 2015: 3:35 PM

Agnes T. Black, BSN, MPH, RN1
Candy Garossino, MSN, BSN, RN1
Lynda Balneaves, PhD, RN2
(1)Professional Practice, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, BC, Canada
(2)School of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Introduction. Research shows that patient outcomes improve when nurses have an evidence-informed practice, yet nurses have identified many barriers to their engagement with research at the bedside, including lack of research methods knowledge, limited organizational support and insufficient time to implement new ideas (1). Mentorship in healthcare settings has been shown to be valuable in furthering evidence-informed practice (2,3). Leaders at Providence Health Care in Vancouver, BC, developed a point-of-care research-training program that included support from mentors and was aimed at reducing nurses’ barriers to research utilization in clinical settings and promoting engagement in research. Mentors for the research-training program were asked to be available as a resource to team members at various points throughout the research process; and to assist the teams to refine research areas or questions; choose research methods/study design; develop appropriate timelines; and prepare research project proposals for submission. For those teams receiving funding, the mentors were asked to assist with the ethics application process and continue to meet with teams to conduct all phases of the research project, including data collection, analysis and the final report.

Methodology. The research-training program was initiated in 2011 and has involved 300 clinicians and 50 mentors to date, with 43 research teams funded. All mentors who worked with funded teams in the first three cohorts of the research-training program (N=30) were invited to participate in an evaluative survey at the conclusion of their team’s one-year research project. Mentor survey questions included both Likert scale questions and open-ended questions. Likert scale questions focused on perceived benefits to research team members from participation in the research-training program, perceived increase in evidence-informed practice and perceived increase in job engagement. Open-ended questions solicited suggestions for improvements to the program and suggestions for improved support for mentors. Survey results were tabulated and organized by research team members.

Results. Fourteen mentors completed the survey, for a response rate of 46%. In response to Likert scale questions, 93%  (N=13) of mentor respondents agreed or strongly agreed that participation in the research-training program was beneficial to their team members. Additionally, 93% agreed or strongly agreed that participation led to an increase in research methods knowledge, attitudes or practice among their team members. Sixty-five percent (N=9) of mentor respondents believed there was an increase in job engagement associated with participation in the research-training program, and 86% agreed or strongly agreed that participation in the research-training program led to an increase in evidence-informed practice.

In response to open-ended questions about suggestions for improving the research-training program, mentors recommended the following: offer additional support for teams during the ethics application process; more clearly define the mentor role and expectations; promote previous teams’ successes to encourage more participation from point-of-care nurses; offer end-of-grant knowledge translation support; and extend the time-frame to provide funded teams more than one year to complete their projects.

When asked how the research-training program organizers could better support mentors, responses included: offer clearer expectations of the goals of the research-training program; clarify time commitment for mentor role; organize regular check-ins between mentors and training program organizers; and offer additional resources for mentors as they support their teams move through the ethics applications. One mentor commented, “I felt well supported and appreciated as a mentor” while another noted, “I think success as a mentor is most directly influenced by the research team you are assigned to, and there appeared to be lots of keen research teams.”

Conclusion. Mentors enthusiastically supported the research-training program, which was perceived to be beneficial to team members and enhance evidence-informed practice. There is compelling evidence from around the world that some of the best care is delivered in health care environments where active research is taking place, including settings where point-of-care providers are seeking to improve health care through research. The role of the mentor in promoting both practice-based research and evidence-informed practice has been shown to be instrumental. The research-training program, with a structure that supports novice researchers from the idea stage through to broad knowledge translation, including ongoing support from a mentor, is a promising initiative for health care organizations seeking to enhance evidence-informed practice and engage point-of-care nurses in the creation and implementation of new evidence.