An Exploration of the Roles of Nurse Managers in Evidence-Based Practice Implementation

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Internationally, nurses face ongoing difficulties in making a reality of evidence-based practice. Existing studies suggest that nurse managers (NMs) should play a key role in leading and facilitating evidence-based practice, but the nature of this role has not yet been fully explored or articulated. This is one of the first studies to investigate the roles of NMs in evidence-based practice implementation.

Methodology and Methods:

Using a case study approach the study explores five propositions in relation to the NMs’ potential evidence-based practice role and the extent to which their attitudes, knowledge, and skills support such a role. In doing so, it draws on interviews (n= 51), documentary analysis and observational data.


Data analysis reveals that the role of NMs in facilitating evidence-based practice is under-articulated, largely passive and currently limited by competing demands. Progress in implementing evidence-based practice in the case study sites is largely explained by factors other than the role played by NMs. As such, the findings expose significant discrepancies between NMs’ actual roles and those espoused in the literature as being necessary. Contextual factors are important and it is clear that the role of the contemporary NM places considerable emphasis on management and administration to the detriment of clinical practice concerns.


The study reveals that NMs are only involved in evidence-based practice implementation in a passive role, not the full engagement described in the literature as being necessary. This study adds previously lacking detail of the roles of NMs. It elucidates why exhortations to NMs to become more involved in evidence-based practice implementation are ineffective without action to address the problems identified.

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