This essay concerns itself with the relationship between evidence based practice and the research process. Section A will address the definition of the research process, the various types and levels of evidence and it will describe how this is implemented into clinical practice highlighting any barriers of implementation. Section B will concentrate on critiquing two research papers and evaluating each paper focusing on their methodology including research design, data collection tools, sampling methods and approaches to analysis.
Burns & Grove (2003, pg3) state that research is a diligent, systemic inquiry or study that validates and refines existing knowledge and develops new knowledge. A definition, or rather an explanation of research, was offered by Macleod Clark & Hockey (1989) cited by Cormack (2000, pg4) they state that research is an attempt to increase the sum of what is known, usually referred to as “a body of knowledge”, by the discovery of new facts or relationships through a process of systematic scientific enquiry, the research process.
There are two main approaches to research these are qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research is a systematic approach used to describe life experiences and give them meaning. It is concerned with narrative or non-numeric data derived from unstructured interviews or observations (Polit & Beck, 2006). Quantitative research is a formal, objective, systematic process used to describe research. It involves the use of methods that ultimately result in the collection of numerical data. Analysis of this data can then be carried out statistically (Gerrish & Lacey, 2006).
The process of any activity is what occurs from its beginning to its end. The tasks and activities carried out by the researcher in a bid to satisfy the research question represent the research process (Parahoo, 2006). Whatever the type of research carried out or the approaches used, the research process habitually consists of four main components: the identification of the research question; the collection of data; the analysis of data and finally the dissemination of the findings (Parahoo, 2006, pg105).
There are numerous sources that health care professionals can acquire their research knowledge from these include traditions, authority, personal experience, intuition and clinical guidelines (Burns & Grove, 2003). Clinical guidelines are described as “systematically developed statements to assist practitioner decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances” (Field & Lohr, 1990). Once a clinical guideline is ready for use, there are two stages which facilitate its introduction into practice: dissemination and implementation. Dissemination is generally taken to refer to the method by which guidelines are made available to potential users (Craig & Smyth, 2007, pg256). Implementation is a means of ensuring that users subsequently act upon the recommendations.
Organisations that assist with progress, synthesis of findings, dissemination and implementation of evidence into clinical practice are the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Cochrane Collaboration, NHS Evidence and the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) (Cohen et al, 2008). As an example SIGN guidelines are developed using an explicit methodology based on three core principles: Development is carried out by multidisciplinary, nationally representative groups; a systematic review is conducted to identify and critically appraise the evidence; recommendations are explicitly linked to the supporting evidence (SIGN, 2008).