Review of sampling, sample and data collection procedures in nursing research - An example of research on ethical climate as perceived by nurses

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To report a review of quality regarding sampling, sample and data collection procedures of empirical nursing research of ethical climate studies where nurses were informants. Surveys are needed to obtain generalisable information about topics sensitive to nursing. Methodological quality of the studies is of key concern, especially the description of sampling and data collection procedures.


Methodological literature review.

Data sources and methods:

Using the electronic MEDLINE database, empirical nursing research articles focusing on ethical climate were accessed in 2013 (earliest-22 November 2013). Using the search terms ‘ethical’ AND (‘climate*’ OR ‘environment*’) AND (‘nurse*’ OR ‘nursing’), 376 citations were retrieved. Based on a four-phase retrieval process, 26 studies were included in the detailed analysis.


Sampling method was reported in 58% of the studies, and it was random in a minority of the studies (26%). The identification of target sample and its size (92%) was reported, whereas justification for sample size was less often given. In over two-thirds (69%) of the studies with identifiable response rate, it was below 75%. A variety of data collection procedures were used with large amount of missing data about the details of who distributed, recruited and collected the questionnaires. Methods to increase response rates were seldom described. Discussion about nonresponse, representativeness of the sample and generalisability of the results was missing in many studies.


This review highlights the methodological challenges and developments that need to be considered in ensuring the use of valid information in developing health care through research findings.

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