The Effect of Changing the Focus of a Traditional Research Course to Critical Appraisal: Does it Make a Difference?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Susan B. Stillwell, DNP, RN, CNE
College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Learning Objective 1: Identify the effect of changing a traditional research course to a critical appraisal course on nursing students’ beliefs and implementation of EBP

Learning Objective 2: Discuss how EBP beliefs and implementation can be used to monitor course and program outcomes and sustainability of EBP in the curriculum

Purpose: The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to determine if a change in a traditional research course with emphasis on research generation to a critical appraisal course with emphasis on creating evidence users made a difference in nursing students’ beliefs and implementation of evidence-based concepts and principles in their nursing practice.

Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used to compare scores measuring evidence-based practice (EBP) beliefs and implementation of EBP concepts and principles in baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in the traditional research and critical appraisal research courses. The focus of the “traditional” research course primarily was on the research process and the outcome was the development of a research proposal.  An alternative course was designed that included course objectives and learning activities specifically addressing critical appraisal of research studies and concepts and principles of the evidence-based practice process. The EBP Beliefs and Implementation Scores were obtained prior to taking the research course or critical appraisal course and at completion of the program (one year after completing the course).

Results: Belief scores were high in both student groups at baseline and at completion of the program. However, the EBP Implementation mean score more than doubled in students who completed the critical appraisal course.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that a critical appraisal course may provide a meaningful curricular change that assists students to actively implement concepts and principles of EBP in their practice.