The Nethersole Nursing Practice Research Unit: Reflecting on its Successes and Challenges in Promoting Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing in Hong Kong

Sunday, 27 July 2014: 8:50 AM

Helen Y. L. Chan, RN, PhD
Diana T. F. Lee, PhD, MSc, PRD (HCE), RM, RN, RTN
The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Evidence-based practice is a global development trend in the healthcare field with an ultimate goal to promote positive impacts on patient outcomes and care quality. Clinicians are empowered to make care decisions for individual patients on the basis of current best available research evidence together with their clinical expertise and patient preferences. This development trend calls for an urgent need to build capacity among nurses on the integration of research and clinical practice, and hence promote a culture of evidence-based care in nursing. In response to this, the Nethersole Nursing Practice Research Unit (NNPRU) was established at the Nethersole School of Nursing with the generous support of the Nethersole Endowment Fund of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The Unit is committed to fostering nursing excellence through research and education, and thus promote evidence-based practice to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice. Its specific objectives are: i) To develop, implement and evaluate evidence-based nursing care protocols for clients and their families; ii) To strengthen the interface between academic and clinical settings; and iii) To equip nursing colleagues and students with knowledge and skills of conducting rigorous and quality research in clinical contexts.

The primary focus of the Unit is on promoting evidence-based practice in basic care in gerontological nursing. This has been a neglected area in both research and clinical care, and so initially there was hesitation among clinicians working at frontline on putting efforts into this area. Over the past few years, the nurses of the Unit have teamed up with the ward colleagues to provide patient care and such opportunity of working as a team had facilitated mutual understanding. The Unit and the ward nurses then identified aspects of care that need improvement together. The frontline nurses appreciated that such collaboration helped to heighten their awareness of the current development of nursing practices and provided guidance to advance their practices. Thus far, the Unit has developed evidence-based care protocols on oral care, foot and toenail care, skin care and bowel care, with the support of nurse specialists of different specialties, and implemented and evaluated these protocols among older adults in the local care setting. Study findings showed that these protocols are effective in improving care outcomes and health-related quality of life of older adults.

Knowledge transfer is also another strategy used by the Unit for promoting evidence-based care in nursing. The Unit has introduced the care protocols to frontline staff in different hospitals and long-term care settings through in-service training, seminar and workshops. These knowledge transfer activities aimed to enhance the gerontological care competence of nurses and co-workers in the field. They were well received from clinical partners revealing that the importance of evidence-based care has been well recognized. The Unit has also disseminated the works through publication and conference presentations to facilitate sharing and exchange of opinions at both local and international levels. In addition, the Unit also prepared educational booklets and video clips related to the various aspects of care for clients and their families to enhance public awareness towards gerontological care and improve their knowledge and skills in this area.

Through its work and achievements, the Unit has successfully demonstrated itself as an exemplar in bridging up research and practice and in promoting evidence-based nursing practice.