The purpose of the study was to ascertain the place of knowledge and evidence in the context of Australian general practice nursing. General practice nursing is a rapidly developing area of specialized nursing in Australia. The provision of primary care services in Australia rests largely with medical general practitioners who employ nurses in a small business model.
A statistical research design was used that included a validated instrument: the developing evidence-based practice questionnaire (Gerrish et al. 2007). A total of 1,800 Victorian practice nurses were surveyed with a return of 590 completed questionnaires, equaling a response rate of 33%.
Lack of time to access knowledge for practice was a barrier for participants in this study. In-service education and training opportunities were ranked as the number one source of knowledge for general practice nurses. Experiential learning and interactions with clients, peers, medical practitioners, and specialist nurses were also considered very important sources of knowledge. Research journals were ranked much lower than experiential learning and personal interactions. Participants assessed their own skills at sourcing and translating evidence into practice knowledge as low. Younger general practice nurses were more likely than older nurses to assess themselves as competent at using the library and Internet to locate evidence.
The predominantly oral culture of nursing needs to be identified and incorporated into methods for disseminating evidence from research findings in order to increase the knowledge base of Australian general practice nurses.
Findings from this study will be significant for policy makers and funders of Australian nursing in general practice. The establishment of a career structure for general practice nurses that includes salaried positions for clinical nurse specialists would assist in the translation of evidence into knowledge for utilization at the point of care.