Minimizing the Fear of Nursing Research

Nursing research committees are challenged to minimize the fear of nursing research among staff nurses.

A brief review of the literature shows the most common elements are not enough time, lack of peer support and limited knowledge or skills for the nursing research process.1

Support from nursing leadership is the first step toward success. Learning and innovation need nurturing, starting at the unit level.2

Open communication between the manager and staff nurse is needed to set and apply mutual goals.

Below are structures and processes in place that have facilitated the vitality of the Nursing Research committee at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago.


Nursing Research: Who, Me?!

Med/surg nurses should embrace changes to get involved in research projects.

Forming a Committee

A vibrant committee offers ideas.

The committee brings nursing practice into focus and correlates it with nursing research.

It is important to use specific examples from respective units in order to generate a conscious understanding by the nurse that research is reflected in their nursing practice. The nurses’ perception of nursing research is everything.

The first step with any committee is to have the right member, with the right attitude for the right committee.

For nurses who voluntarily join this committee, the chair meets with the staff nurse to discuss the goals and expectations so there will be no surprises, and to learn the goals and expectations of the staff nurse, their views on what is nursing research and their overall professional development.

For nurses assigned to the committee this might be difficult, thus extra effort is needed to articulate with the nurse on the benefits of joining the research committee. The right member with the right attitude for the right committee is a strategic move to making a difference.

Once the right committee members are in place, it is important to review the group dynamics, which bring diversity to ideas and standpoints.

For example, our committee is comprised of staff nurses, an educator, director, medical librarian, Magnet coordinator and a nursing research consultant.

Diversity adds energy to a committee.

Resources (System- & Site-Specific)

It is important to have resources easily available with the right tools for the staff nurse to understand and apply. Below is a list of available resources:


For hospitals as part of a system, it is advantageous to develop classes for any nurse within the system to attend.

For example, our system offers the following:

  • Demystifying Nursing Research Class – The class is designed for the nurse who is fearful of research.
  • Nursing Research Internship Program – An opportunity for staff nurses to do an actual nursing research project; no research experience needed. The nurse is assisted throughout the research process. This is a great opportunity for professional development.
  • Research Day – An opportunity for hospitals within the system to come together and review the different nursing research projects by staff nurses; it is great for nurses to meet, network and appreciate the accomplished work by their nursing colleagues. Peer- to-peer acknowledgment influences a culture to initiating a nursing research project.


At the site level, one needs to individualize the needs of the nurses. At Saint Joseph Hospital, we offer a 1-hour lecture on evidence-based practice. The focus is on critiquing articles and how to formulate a research question. The lecture was developed to respond to staff nurses learning needs.

Additional resources to help alleviate the fear of research to an “I can do this” mind-set are the following:

  • Medical librarian – It is important for the librarian to be part of the Nursing Research committee. At Saint Joseph Hospital, the medical librarian is also a registered nurse, thus the needs of the nurse with clinical issues are easily met. Additionally, she sets up times to go to the units to assist with the online database navigation and acts as a resource for the staff nurse. 

  • Information packet for the principal investigator (PI) – The packet includes resources, the overall process of a research project and contact information, and it’s available online. 

  • Online databases – These are at any nurses’ station and also remotely available. This is a great feature for the off shifts. 

  • Nursing research consultant – Having a consultant is vital for the nurse who is committed and determined to conducting a nursing research project. The consultant is an expert resource and guides the nurse through the research project process to publication. 

  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) simulated – Presenting to the IRB committee could be intimidating for the PI. To ameliorate this obstacle, the Saint Joseph Hospital Nursing Research committee has a mock IRB. The PI presents to the Nursing Research committee the project as they would with the IRB committee for approval. It is also an opportunity for making suggestions and recommendations to the PI to incorporate on the application prior to presenting to the IRB Committee. Preparedness enriches a satisfying experience with the IRB. 

Communication & Acknowledgment

It is a committee’s responsibility to communicate its accomplishments to its target audience, such as the nursing governing body of the hospital, and to have a solid reporting structure.

Keeping lines of communication open allows staff nurses to appreciate the value of nursing research and understand how it is applied at the beside.

The Nursing Research committee acknowledges nurses for their accomplishments and how they have broadened their nursing practice knowledge. There is nothing more rewarding than being acknowledged by your peers.

Communication and acknowledgment are the fundamentals to being valued and understood.

Ongoing Research

Minimizing the fear of nursing research is ongoing. Hence, structures and processes become prerequisites to commitment, consistency and compliance.

The Saint Joseph Hospital Nursing Research committee has standardized and established structures and processes, and when challenges arise they assist the committee to sort out solutions.

One of the committee’s commitments to our nurses is to provide support, encouragement, resources and tools not only to the novice researcher, but to nurses who want to remain active in research. Structures and processes add stability, fairness and integrity.


1. Roxburgh, M. (2006). An exploration of factors which constrain nurses from research participation. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 15, 535-545.
2. Gawlinski , A., & Miller, P. (2011). Advancing nursing research through a mentorship program for staff nurses. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 22, 190-200.

Adriana Rumoro is the Magnet coordinator at Saint Joseph Hospital, Chicago.

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