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Henry Ford Hospital Nursing Research Toolkit

This toolkit is a guide for investigators who are interested in planning, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating nursing research projects. Each of the grey tabs represents a page that can be printed.

About the HFH Nursing Research Toolkit

Nursing research seeks to answer questions or explore healthcare issues. Through the processes of description, exploration, explanation, and prediction of phenomena, nurse researchers work to improve patient outcomes while contributing to the discipline of nursing. 

Approaches to Nursing Inquiry

Not sure where to begin? The first step is to determine whether your project is an evidence-based practice (EBP) initiative, research study or quality improvement (QI) project. The chart below will clarify differences between types of inquiry and help lead you to the right methodology decisions and a successful project. 

  Research EBP Project Quality Improvement
Definitions A systematic investigation of phenomena for purposes of generalizing findings to the population Step-by-step process used to identify best evidence and translate it into practice. Patient's preferences, values, and workplace resources must be considered  Also systematic but the focus is localized to setting. The findings, can't be generalized to the population beyond the local setting 
Goals To add to the current body of knowledge about a particular subject To translate research into practice and improve patient outcomes and/or well-being of the healthcare workforce To improve specific identified processes or outcomes within a local setting
Steps Research methods (qualitative or quantitative) vary with the phenomena under investigation and are determined by  investigator(s). The protocol remains unchanged throughout the research Ask a question, search for best evidence, assess environment for appropriateness of change, engage stakeholders, develop protocol, implement change. The process can be adaptive and changes can be made There are many method but usually follow plan, do, study, act approach. The process can change based on preliminary data. Some examples of QI methods include: PDSA, Root Cause Analysis, Lean 
Outcome differences Subjects may not directly benefit from knowledge gained Implementation is based on best available research evidence and will directly benefit subjects Improvement of processes will result in direct benefits to local setting (specific unit or department, etc.)
Generalizable to population of interest in other settings  If the study design is strong, the findings can be applied to other groups and settings EBP outcomes aren't  generalizable to other settings Outcomes are not generalizable outside of organization where project is completed

Who is involved in the study or project

Involves a subset of population with inclusion and exclusion criteria Typically involves most of those  participating in the process Typically involves most of the people participating in the process
Use of theories Used to organize the study design but not always Can be used to organize the practice change Not usually based on theoretical framework
Extensive search of literature for best evidence Yes Yes Process improvement is based on internal data that triggers the need for the improvement
Funding May be available internally, statewide or federally Funding may be available internally Funding may be available internally
Informed Consent Written consent is necessary unless a waiver of consent is obtained from IRB. Investigator must identify how health information will be protected IRB may need to review to review. Informed consent may be necessary or a waiver of consent may be granted from institutional review board  IRB may need to review to determine if QI or research
Risk to patient Risks to patients varies. Hospital IRB must determine study acceptability

Risks to patient minimized  because practice changes are based on best research evidence, internal data, internal expertise.


Risk can't exceed that normally present in standard of care. HIPPA covers the use of protected health information for QI purposes

Next Steps....

Evidence-Based Practice

If you've determined your project is an EBP study, visit the following links for more EBP information:

Quality Improvement/Process Improvement

If your project is a quality improvement study, follow the links for more QI information:

If you've identified your study as research, continue to Step 2.