Practitioner engagement by academic researchers: a scoping review of nursing, midwifery and therapy professions literature

Nikki Daniels, Patricia Mackin (now Gillen), K. Casson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Engagement of frontline practitioners by academic researchers in the research process is believed to afford benefits towards closing the research practice gap. However, little is known about if and how academic researchers engage nurses, midwives or therapists in research activities or if evidence supports these claims of positive impact.
Method: A scoping review was undertaken using the Arksey and O'Malley (2005)
framework to identify the extent to which this phenomenon has been considered in the literature.
Results: An iterative search carried out in CINAHL, Pubmed, Medline and Embase
retrieved 32 relevant papers published 2000 to 2017, with the majority from the last two-years. Retained papers described or evaluated active engagement of a practitioner from nursing, midwifery and therapy disciplines in at least one stage of a research project other than as a study participant. Engagement most often took place in one research activity with few examples of engagement throughout the research process. Limited use of theory and variations in terms used to describe practitioner engagement by researchers was observed. Subjective perspectives of practitioners’ experiences
and a focus on challenges and benefits were the most prominently reported outcomes. Few attempts were found to establish effects which could support claims that practitioner engagement can enhance the use of findings or impact health outcomes.
Conclusion: It is recommended that a culture of practitioner engagement is cultivated by developing guiding theory, establishing consistent terminology and building an evidence base through empirical evaluations which provide objective data to support claims that this activity can positively influence the research practice gap.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Jul 2019


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