Balancing Interests of Hospitals and Nurse Researchers

When academic institutions collaborate with nurses in hospital settings, new opportunities are created for learning and translating evidence into real-world practice environments. But there are challenges and risks in any collaboration.

In 2007, a team of researchers—nurse scientist, health care administrator, economist and institutional ethnographer—studied hospital nursing that was provided during off-peak hours (nights and weekends). They used institutional ethnography methods that study social and cultural norms in order to understand how differences in hospital work environments might explain differences in patient mortality and morbidity. This article describes the key elements of the collaborative partnership and lessons learned that might guide others.

The authors suggest:

  • All entities involved in the research project must understand and agree to the roles, responsibilities and contributions of the participants.
  • Ethical considerations should be spelled out in advance, such as privacy issues of individuals and of institutions, as well as how results (positive and negative) will be presented or shared.

One of the important lessons they impart is that “nurse leaders in the organization sought to support the research team’s effort without initially recognizing the complexity involved in disseminating research findings that resulted from institutional ethnography as a methodology.”