Applying research evidence

Once you’re confident the research is of a high quality standard, you then need to think how you’ll use it.

Research evidence is only one part of the picture when it comes to decision-making.

You’ll need to consider it alongside the views of people using your services, practitioner and organisational knowledge, and financial or resource restraints.

Evidence is applied in context, so your own knowledge and experience and that of people who need care and support, is vital.

Research evidence isn’t always clear cut, and even after critically appraising your evidence you may end up with contradictory messages or more than one conclusion.

Summarising the key arguments of the evidence can help identify key messages and implications. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklists can help with this.

You also need to have a good understanding of your local context if you are going to make changes. There are many tools that can help with this, and the Hexagon Tool is one of them.

You must consider all elements before making changes:

  • need
  • fit
  • resources
  • evidence
  • readiness
  • capacity.

Implementation is the hardest part of getting research into practice. There are often organisational barriers to implementing evidence-informed practice.

Three elements have been identified as present in research-minded practitioners:

  • curiosity and interest
  • critical reflection (tacit knowledge)
  • critical thinking (explicit knowledge).

Organisations need to create environments to support research-minded practitioners.

"By nurturing aspects of curiosity, critical reflection, and critical thinking in front-line practitioners, those that are responsible for implementing evidence-informed practice may be more capable of seeking out, consuming and applying the knowledge needed to support evidence-informed practice with clients." Austin et al (2012, p198)

The SCIE Guide on Research Mindedness gives more information about how people can change their practice to take on board research.

There are many ways you can share your findings from research with others.

Try to use the method most suited for your audience. This could be an executive summary (a written briefing of key messages), an infographic (a visual representation of key messages), or a presentation (PowerPoint or Prezi or film).