Posted: February 9th, 2023

Florence Nightingale is considered the pioneer of nursing research and EBP

Florence Nightingale is considered the pioneer of nursing research and evidence-based practice (EBP). She is credited with being the first person to conduct thorough tests, organize statistical data and publish best practices in the field of nursing. Today, many of Nightingale’s core principles are still relevant and provide the nursing profession with a guide for improving research and EBP to achieve better patient outcomes. In the past, it was not practical for all nurses to be able to engage in changing nursing best practices, but now it is considered a responsibility. Nightingale’s efforts to advocate for and push for change and improvements at the national level also helped pave the way for the creation of the National Institute of Nursing Research in 1986, highlighting the significance of nursing research in current clinical practice (Houser, 2023).
Research aims to generate new knowledge using a specific process of informed consent for participants, subject to peer review, and replication (Houser, 2023). This methodical process benefits nursing while providing evidence and scientific data to EBP. EBP involves interpreting existing knowledge or information and applying it to daily clinical decision making, resulting in better patient outcomes. While EBP often benefits from research, it also takes into account clinical knowledge from nursing leaders and patient individuality (Conner, 2014).
It is hoped that with greater knowledge, ethical violations surrounding research and experiments will decrease, so as to not repeat past mistakes. The US Department of Energy (DOE) website states that in 1963, endocrinologist Carl Heller was asked by NASA and the DOE to examine the effects of radiation on the human body, specifically the male reproductive organs (1995). This data was to be used to determine the specifics of men in space and the potential harm of the sun and flares to the body. At the time, it was common practice for Heller to experiment on volunteer prison inmates in Oregon and Washington by injecting controlled amounts of radiation into the inmates’ testes. The inmates were told that they would be vasectomized and may experience some mild burning. They were told that there would be no health benefit, but they were incentivized with a small stipend for participation. This led to many health issues, including cancer and a lot of pain. In later years, during an oversight process, it was clear there were many ethical violations and inmates were not given accurate disclosure of possible side effects. If I were involved in research, I would prioritize the first principle of respect for persons and ensure that participants fully understand the study and are advocated for (Chamberlain, 2023). I would also be hesitant to use at-risk populations such as a prison population, unless it directly pertained to this group, as well as possible benefits to them in the process. I believe that without full disclosure, this is an unethical practice that could lead to participant injury and faulty outcomes, which does not adhere to beneficence
Chamberlain week one lesson: Intro to Evidence Based Practice, 2023.
Conner, B. T. (2014). Differentiating research, evidence-based practice and quality improvement Links to an external site.. American Nurse Today, 9(6).
Department of Energy (February 1995). Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments to an external site.
Houser, J. (2023). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence (4th ed.). Jones and Bartlett.

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