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To examine attitudes towards research and perceived barriers and facilitators of research utilisation in clinical practice in a broad cross-section of Spanish nurses.Nurses’ attitudes towards research are critical in determining whether study findings are used to improve practice.Cross-sectional comparative survey in Hospitals, Primary Care Centres and University-affiliated schools of nursing.Surveys were completed by 917 nurses: 69 who received funding from the Spanish national agency (1998–2004) and a nationally representative sample of 848 nurses who did not have the same research experience (the Comparison group). Two instruments (BARRIERS and Attitudes towards nursing research) were translated and culturally adapted for use in Spain. A descriptive analysis of demographic and practice characteristics was performed. Total scale scores, as well as subscale scores, were computed and compared across the two groups using one-way analysis of variance (anova) and multivariate analysis of variance (manova) with post hoc tests. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were computed between the total tool scores and subscales measuring barriers and attitudes in both groups.The investigators differed from other nurses on several demographic and work characteristics (more males, older age and more likely to work a fixed day shift schedule). On the whole, investigators showed more favourable attitudes but perceived several elements as posing greater barriers to research utilisation than the Comparison groups. Across all respondents, issues related to the quality of research were rated as the greatest barriers to research utilisation, followed by organisational barriers, barriers involving the communication of findings and finally, those related to nurses’ values, awareness and skills.Very similar profiles of perceptions and attitudes regarding research were found in these samples of Spanish nurses relative to those from other countries in earlier reports. Nurses who had experience conducting research demonstrated more favourable research-related attitudes and perceived barriers differently than those without such experience.Understanding different organisational and experience perspectives is important to identify challenges and opportunities to ensure research utilisation in clinical practice.