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Nursing Research/Theory - Research Articles

How to Recognize an Original Research Article (Primary Source)

Look at the abstract or full text of the journal article and look for the following:

  1. Was data collected? Were there surveys, questionnaires, interviews, interventions (as in a clinical trial)?
  2. Is there a population?
  3. Is there an outline of the methodology used?
  4. Are there findings or results?
  5. Are there conclusions and a discussion of the significance?

Research articles use a standard format to clearly communicate information about an experiment. A research article usually has 7 major sections:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction/Objective
  4. Method
  5. Results
  6. Discussion/Conclusion

A research article has a hypothesis, a method for testing the hypothesis, a population on which the hypothesis was tested, results or findings, and a discussion or conclusion.

Material taken from the Psychology Writing Center at the University of Washington

Example of an original Research Article

Buhse M. Efficacy of EMLA cream to reduce fear and pain associated with interferon beta-1a injection in patients with multiple sclerosis. J Neurosci Nurs. 2006 Aug; 38(4), 222-6

Stony Brook University School of Nursing, Stony Brook, NY.

Abstract: Fear of pain from injections may affect adherence to needed drug therapy. A single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover, study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of EMLA cream in reducing the fear and pain associated with intramuscular (IM) injection during administration of interferon beta-1a to patients with multiple sclerosis. Patients rated fear of injection on a visual analog scale before the injection and rated injection pain following the injection. With the application of EMLA cream, the mean pain-of-injection score was found to be significantly lower than the mean fear-of-injection score. The 18 patients who completed the study experienced a statistically significant decrease in both scores. This study suggests that the use of EMLA cream may reduce the pain and fear associated with IM injections.

Example of a Research Article

Virul G., Kisa S. Umbilical cord care: a pilot study comparing topical human milk, povidone-iodine, and dry care. Journal Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing. 2006 Jan-Feb 35(1),123-8.

Gazi University School of Nursing, Besevler, Ankara, Turkey

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To compare the incidence of omphalitis among three groups, each using a different type of newborn cord care: povidone-iodine, dry care, and topical human milk. DESIGN: Case control. SETTING: A large urban university hospital in Turkey and participant homes after discharge. PARTICIPANTS: 150 healthy, full-term newborns and their mothers. INTERVENTIONS: Umbilical cord care consisted of one of three methods: topical application of povidone-iodine twice daily, topical application of mother's milk twice daily, or dry care (keeping the cord dry and clean). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Outcome was measured in terms of the presence or absence of omphalitis and the number of days elapsed before cord separation. An ongoing questionnaire was administered by telephone every other day after the participants left the hospital. In addition to demographic information, the cord separation day and any signs of omphalitis were recorded in the questionnaire. RESULTS: There were no significant differences between the three groups in terms of omphalitis occurrence. Two cases of omphalitis were observed (one in the human milk group, one in the povidone-iodine group). Interestingly, babies in the dry care or topical human milk group had shorter cord separation times than those in the povidone-iodine group. CONCLUSION: The cultural practice of applying human milk to the umbilical cord stump appears to have no adverse effects and is associated with shorter cord separation times than are seen with the use of antiseptics.

Example of a Research Article (quanitative research)

Burton C, Gibbon B., Expanding the role of the stroke nurse: a pragmatic clinical trial. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2005 Dec 52(6),640-50.

School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.

AIMS: This paper reports a study evaluating whether expanding a specialist nursing role to provide outreach education and support to stroke patients and carers after discharge from hospital is effective in promoting recovery. BACKGROUND: Building therapeutic relationships with patients and carers is a key component of the nursing role in stroke rehabilitation, although this is limited by the constraints of service organization. METHODS: A pragmatic randomized controlled trial was undertaken. Patients with a diagnosis of stroke were randomized to receive continued support from a stroke nurse (n = 87) or usual care and follow-up (n = 89) after discharge from hospital. Patients were recruited from two hospitals in the north-west of England from November 1999 to April 2001. Patient dependence (Barthel Index), general health (Nottingham Health Profile), activities of living (Frenchay Activity of Living Index), depression (Beck Depression Inventory) and carer strain (Carer Strain Index) were assessed at 3 and 12 months after stroke. RESULTS: The continued intervention of a stroke nurse after discharge was associated with improved patient perceptions of general health at 12 months (median difference 42.6, P = 0.012), and in particular reduced negative emotional reaction (P = 0.037) and perceived social isolation (P = 0.002). In addition, the intervention reduced carer strain at 3 months (P = 0.045), and reduced deterioration in physical dependence from 3 to 12 months (P = 0.049). CONCLUSION: The provision of continued intervention from a stroke nurse after discharge from hospital, focusing on education and support, has tangible benefits for patients and carers.

Publication Types: Randomized Controlled Trial

Example of a Research Article (quanitative research)

Amar, A.F., Prevalence estimates of violence in the dating experiences of college women. Journal of the National Black Nurses Association. 2004 Dec 15(2),23-31.

School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.

Young women are vulnerable to experiencing psychological, physical, and sexual violence and stalking through dating experiences. This study used a correlational design to report prevalence estimates of psychological, physical, and sexual violence and stalking that occur within the dating experiences of college women. This study also compared prevalence estimates of violence between African-American and White college women. A convenience sample of 863 (N = 863) women between 18 and 25 years of age from a private, historically African-American college in the south and a private, historically primarily White college in the mid-Atlantic completed the Abuse Assessment Screen, and a background data sheet. All participants had the option of completing a narrative note. Data analysis consisted of frequencies, and chi2. Almost half of the total sample 48% (n = 412) reported the experience of violence and of these, 39% (n = 160) reported more than one form of violence. Specific prevalence was as follows: psychological violence 22% (n = 190), stalking or harassment 31% (n = 266), physical violence 12% (n = 99), and all unwanted sexual activity 9% (n = 80). Prevalence estimates were consistent for African-American and White college students in all types of violence except in reporting threats of physical violence and threats plus actual physical violence. Study findings highlight the need for nurses to routinely screen and assess all young women for psychological, physical, and sexual violence and stalking Surveillance efforts will help identify victims and potential victims so that appropriate referrals for treatment and support can be made.

Example of a Research Article (qualitative research)

DeSanto-Madeya S. The meaning of living with spinal cord injury 5 to 10 years after the injury.Western J Nurs Res. 2006 Apr 28(3),265-89; discussion 290-3.

College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts.

A phenomenological study was conducted with 20 spinal cord injured persons and their family members to examine the meaning of living with spinal cord injury 5 to 10 years after the initial injury. Seven themes emerged from the data. The themes are looking for understanding to a life that is unknown, stumbling along an unlit path, viewing self through a stained glass window, challenging the bonds of love, being chained to the injury, moving forward in a new way of life, and reaching normalcy. The uncovered meanings enhance our understanding and appreciation that living with spinal cord injury is a continuous learning experience. The study findings may be useful in the development of self-care strategies and ongoing interventions that focus on maintaining physical and psychological health for both spinal cord injured persons and their family members throughout the course of living with the disability.