One strategy to enhance research use and change current practice is to identify barriers and then implement tailored interventions to reduce these barriers. In nursing, the BARRIERS scale has been frequently used to identify nurses' perceptions of barriers to research utilization. However, this scale has not been applied to care of older people, and only one study has investigated how identified barriers link to research utilization. Therefore, the purpose of this study was twofold: to describe RNs' perceptions of barriers to and facilitators of research utilization and to examine the validity of the BARRIERS scale in relation to research use.
A cross-sectional survey design was used and registered nurses (RNs) working in the care of older people participated (response rate 67%, n = 140/210). Two questionnaires, the BARRIERS scale and the Research Utilization Questionnaire (RUQ), were used. Data were analyzed using descriptive and bivariate inferential statistics.
Characteristics of the organization and the presentation of research findings were rated as the most prominent barriers. The three items most frequently reported as barriers were: the nurse is isolated from knowledgeable colleagues with whom to discuss the research (89%); the facilities are inadequate for implementation (88%); and, the relevant literature is not compiled in one place (81%). Surveyed RNs suggested more support from unit managers and better availability of user-friendly reports in Swedish to enhance research use.
The RNs reported a modest use of research. A weak but significant correlation was found between the Research Use index in RUQ and the Presentation subscale in the BARRIERS scale (r = -0.289, p < 0.01), suggesting that the RNs reporting more research use were less likely to perceive presentation of research as a barrier. Dividing the sample into research users (n = 29) and non-research users (n = 105), the research users rated significantly lower on the subscales Presentation, Nurse and Research in the BARRIERS scale.
The BARRIERS scale revealed differences in the perception of barriers between research users and non-research users. Thus, methodologically the scale appears useful in identifying some types of barriers to research utilization but not organizational barriers. The identified barriers, however, are general and wide-ranging, making it difficult to design useful specific interventions.