Taking scientific approach

An important term used in healthcare in recent years has been ‘evidence-based practice’ or ‘evidence-based medicine’.

Healthcare practitioners have recognised that practices, techniques and therapies which have been long-used sometimes do not have a foundation in research.

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) or evidence-based practice (EBP) seeks to apply the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to clinical decision-making and practice.
This applies to nursing as much as it does to any other health profession. Building capacity in nursing is a challenge across the world.

In South Africa, says Professor Laetitia Rispel, Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand, nursing research is under-developed. “Much should be done to encourage and increase research by and on nursing, and linking it to broader health and health system priorities in the country”.

Research in nursing involves the search for new knowledge and improved methods for nursing practice, but to develop a ‘research culture’, training in research skills and mentoring of novice researchers is essential.


Two years ago, Professor Rispel compiled a Report on the State of Nursing; since then, she says, Atlantic Philanthropies, the global organisation which funded that report, “has invested quite a bit of money to encourage and enhance nursing scholarship in South Africa”, and she is confident the results of this investment will be seen in the immediate future.

In March this year, she adds, the Nursing Association launched the Denosa Professional Institute, “which aims to encourage leadership and scholarship among nurses, but obviously prioritising their members”.

One of the goals of the National Nursing Summit is to encourage research on nursing by nurses, using the list of priorities that emerges from the summit.

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