Nursing is a relatively young academic field that continues to change by incorporating innovative research methods. Florence Nightingale introduced scientific inquiry, which became the basis of nursing practice (Houser, 2018). By collecting data about the soldier morbidity and mortality factors, Nightingale concluded that better food and hygiene could improve the soldiers’ condition. As nursing education moved into universities, research became a key aspect of nursing practice. The National Institutes of Health recognized how crucial research was in nursing practice by establishing the National Center for Research for Nursing, which is now an autonomous National Institute of Nursing Research (Houser, 2018). The 1990s resulted in more scientific breakthroughs in nursing “partially due to external influences that created demands for accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency” (Houser, 2018, p. 9). The internal factors included the incorporation of a systematic review into research and evidence-based practice (EBP).
Some may find the distinction between research and evidence-based practice in nursing confusing. Houser (2018) claims that nursing research is “a systematic process of inquiry that uses rigorous guidelines to produce unbiased, trustworthy answers to questions about nursing practice” (p.4). Although research has been the primary focus of nursing practice for the past century, nursing practitioners required an international standard, which led to the emergence of EBP. Evidence-based practice is a systematic approach to evaluating research and translating it into practice. Nurses integrate research into EBP to make well-founded decisions, develop new medical protocols, and initiate interventions.
Unfortunately, history is full of examples of unethical research, which is why it is important to develop moral and regulatory frameworks that would guide every medical practitioner. The Willowbrook Study (1963-1966), for instance, used mentally handicapped children for experimentation (Houser, 2018). Mentally handicapped people are a vulnerable population, and so are children. Therefore, the responsibility of healthcare professionals to ensure that the participants’ rights were respected was double in the Willowbrook case. Using legal regulations about informed consent, I would make sure there is a certain group of administrative staff to oversee the legality/morality of studies such as the Willowbrook Study.
Houser, J. (2018). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence (4th ed.). Jones and Bartlett.