Transformative Learning and Research Utilization in Nursing Practice: A Missing Link?
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BACKGROUND: Poor or inconsistent research utilization into clinical practice is a recurrent theme across study contexts, rendering leaders disillusioned with how best to foster the uptake of research into nursing practice. This makes it imperative to look to new approaches. Research utilization involves a learning process engaging attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors; yet, this is often overlooked in approaches and models used to facilitate research use. This oversight may offer some explanation to the limited progress in research utilization to date. Transformation Theory offers an explanatory theory and specific strategies (critical reflection and critical discourse) to explore attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors so that they are understood, validated, and can better guide actions. AIM: The purpose of this article was to explore what Transformation Theory can contribute to research utilization initiatives in nursing practice. APPROACH: Transformation Theory and transformative learning strategies are discussed and critically analyzed in consideration of their potential roles in fostering research utilization in clinical nursing practice. ISSUES AND CONCLUSIONS: (1) Research utilization is a learning process that involves knowledge, skills, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. (2) Transformative learning strategies of critical reflection and discourse can facilitate insight into experiences, finding shared meanings among groups of people, and understanding/validating beliefs, attitudes, and feelings so they can more consciously guide future actions. This dimension is frequently neglected in research utilization efforts. (3) In combination with research utilization theories, Transformation Theory may be a missing link to make research utilization initiatives more effective in rendering and sustaining nursing practice change, thus enhancing client care and well-being. (4) Research and further consideration are both warranted and needed.