Research is a crucial component of generating new knowledge and external evidence in various fields, including healthcare. It involves the use of scientific processes to explore and investigate phenomena, ultimately leading to the discovery of new information. Two main study methods commonly used in research are quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative research utilizes scientific methodology to determine the appropriate sample size, control potential errors during data collection, and conduct statistical analysis of the data collected. On the other hand, qualitative research employs a smaller sample size and focuses on capturing and analyzing the life experiences and perspectives of individuals involved in the study.
Another approach commonly used to improve processes and outcomes in healthcare is quality improvement (QI). QI follows a “plan, do, study, act” model and is typically employed by organizations to address identified problems and enhance their processes or outcomes. This model enables healthcare organizations to continually assess, analyze, and make necessary changes to improve their performance for a specific population (Conner, 2014).
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is another important concept to consider in healthcare. It involves the conscientious use of the most current and best evidence available when making decisions about patient care. EBP is a problem-solving approach that encompasses a systemic search and critical appraisal of evidence, as well as the consideration of patient and family preferences and values. It incorporates internal evidence, such as assessments and outcomes, as well as external evidence, in the form of research findings and literature (Fineout-Overholt & Melnyk, 2018).
While QI and EBP share similarities in their focus on improving clinical outcomes, there are some key differences. QI primarily relies on external evidence and does not always employ a systematic approach for critical appraisal. In contrast, evidence-based QI incorporates both internal and external evidence and utilizes a systematic search and critical appraisal to guide decision-making regarding practice changes aimed at improving clinical outcomes (Fineout-Overholt & Melnyk, 2018).
It is essential for nurses to have a clear understanding of the distinctions between research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. Nurses play a crucial role in contributing to the development of new knowledge, innovations, and improvements in healthcare. By understanding these concepts, nurses can ensure that their practice is informed by the best available evidence and can actively contribute to improving patient care and outcomes (Conner, 2014).
In summary, research is a process that generates new knowledge and external evidence. It involves the use of quantitative or qualitative methods to collect and analyze data. Quality improvement focuses on improving processes and outcomes within healthcare organizations using a plan, do, study, act model. Evidence-based practice involves the conscientious use of the most current and best evidence when making decisions about patient care. Nurses should be knowledgeable about these concepts and their distinctions to contribute to the advancement of healthcare.