Cochrane Summaries

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Can organisational infrastructures be effective in promoting evidence-based nursing practice?

Flodgren G, Rojas-Reyes MX, Cole N, Foxcroft DR
Published Online: 
15 February 2012

Nurses and midwives form the bulk of the clinical health workforce, and play a central role in all health service delivery. There is potential to improve health care quality if nurses routinely use the best available evidence in their clinical practice. Since many of the factors perceived by nurses as barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP) lie at the organisational level, it is of interest to devise and assess the effectiveness of models to change healthcare organisations in order to promote the use of EBP among nurses successfully.

We defined organisational infrastructures as being "the underlying foundation or basic framework through which clinical care is delivered and supported", which include for example: organisational policies, nurse development units and other types of organisational developments such as organisations developing and implementing evidence-based nursing procedures, standards or guidelines for clinical practice.

We searched the literature for robust evaluations of the effectiveness of organisational interventions in promoting EBP in nursing. We included one study from the USA which involved one hospital and for which the number of nurses was not reported. The study evaluated the effects of a standardised evidence-based nursing procedure on improved nursing care for patients at risk of developing healthcare-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs), as measured by the HAPU rate. If a patient's admission Braden score was lower than or equal to 18, nurses were authorised to initiate a prevention pressure ulcer care bundle, without a physician order. The Braden scale is a tool used to assess a patient's risk of developing pressure ulcers. An adult with a score below or equal to 18 is considered to have a high risk for developing a pressure ulcer.

Re-analysis of the HAPU data, as an interrupted time series, was suggestive of a trend in rates prior to intervention and, if that trend was assumed to be real, there was no evidence of an intervention effect at three months (mean rate per quarter 0.7%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7 to 3.3; P = 0.457). Given the small percentages post intervention it was not statistically possible to extrapolate effects beyond three months.

Considering the importance placed on organisational change in promoting EBP in nursing, it is surprising that eight years after the previous empty Cochrane review was published, appropriately evaluated organisational infrastructure interventions are still lacking. If policy-makers and healthcare organisations wish to promote evidence-based nursing at an organisational level successfully, they must ensure the funding and conduct of well-designed studies to generate evidence to guide policy.

This record should be cited as: 
Flodgren G, Rojas-Reyes MX, Cole N, Foxcroft DR. Effectiveness of organisational infrastructures to promote evidence-based nursing practice. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD002212. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002212.pub2
Assessed as up to date: 
7 March 2011