Practice Matters

Creating more than just a journal club

How could we provide nurses with easy access to relevant nursing research and promote evidence-based practice? That was the question our Nursing Research Committee at Massachusetts General Hospital asked in 2002.
Our answer was to create a journal club that would capture—and hold—our nurses’ interest. With that goal in mind, we created a very different kind of journal club with a distinct format.
Now in its fourth year, the Nursing Research Journal Club has become a forum for nurse-researchers to present their published nursing research.

Exploring the options and obstacles
During the first 6 months, we attended sessions of an existing multidisciplinary journal club in our institution. We also distributed a survey to nurse-managers to determine their perceptions of the barriers to starting and maintaining a journal club.
The results? Our nurse-managers believed the main obstacles would be time constraints and lack of knowledge about research articles. Several managers recommended addressing the latter issue by incorporating an educational component into the club format.

Creating the format
We then piloted several formats at our monthly committee meeting. Like the nurse-managers, committee members thought that reading and discussing research articles would be new for many nurses. Thus, they felt we needed to devise a journal-club model that didn’t require research experience or knowledge of the research process.
To address these concerns, we decided to invite nurse-researchers to present their published research. This live showcase model, we believed, would provide a forum for sharing the latest research findings and might just ignite a spirit of inquiry in attendees as they listened to the personal journey of each nurse-researcher.
Our model, called “More Than Just a Journal Club,” had a dual purpose: to have researchers present their work and to teach attendees to read and critique research articles. We collaborated with experienced nurse-researchers and professors of nursing to create a summary tool, so attendees could read each article and gain insight into research processes.

Getting the word out
Our next steps included deciding on whom we would invite and how we would spread the word about our innovative journal-club format. We decided to open the sessions to all nurses, not just those at our institution.
Before each session, we posted the article citation and our summary tool on our committee’s website, so attendees could review the article. To announce our format, we advertised extensively, using our institution’s Intranet, e-mail, printed flyers, and word of mouth.

Operating the club
We established two simple rules about the research that could be presented: It had to be original published nursing research, and it had to have been published in the last 7 years.
A literature search by our research librarian revealed all the nurses from our institution who had published research articles. We reviewed the articles, met to discuss them, and decided which authors we’d invite to present their research. After accepting our invitation, a researcher completed the summary tool and objectives for the purpose of offering nursing contact hours.
With each session, we became more adept at the organizational strategies needed to run a successful program. We established some automatic processes by using standard letters and a routine checklist to make preparing for the sessions less time-consuming.
To find presenters, we all read nursing research journals. When a researcher accepted an invitation, the member coordinating the presentation prepared a summary of the presenter’s biographical information and the research for the committee.

Never stop spreading the word
After 4 years, spreading the word about upcoming presentations remains a top priority. In 2004, we developed a database of attendees and presenters, and we continue to add names. We also continue to use our institution’s Intranet, e-mail, printed flyers, and word of mouth.
We are seeing increased attendance and more opportunities for networking and collaboration. Several articles about the journal club have been published in local nursing magazines, and they have brought new attendees. We’ve expanded our date and time postings to include print and on-line versions of these local magazines. We also use the medical educational calendar at our institution. And we distribute invitations to the members of an interagency nursing leadership consortium whose membership includes nurse-leaders throughout Boston.
Students attending our sessions have taken our model back to their facilities. And guests from other institutions within our state and across the country have attended sessions during their visits for Magnet™ consultation. We received local and international requests for an explanation of how to start a journal club, and we have an informal consulting process in place to respond to these inquiries and to share tips for success.
We are now working on a pilot program to teleconference the sessions from the main conference room to nurses on an inpatient unit. And we are collaborating with other institutions to use teleconferencing, as well.


Widening the circle
In mid-2005, we widened the circle of potential presenters, hoping to deepen the pool of presenters and attendees. We began to review articles by nurse-researchers from affiliated universities and other healthcare institutions in the Boston area. From 2004 to 2006, we hosted 17 sessions for a total of 320 participants. Eight sessions showcased nurse-researchers from our hospital; the other nine showcased nurse-researchers from noncorporate affiliates, such as Boston College, Northeastern University, Institute of Health Professions, and the University of Massachusetts.
Our journal club is an example of how to promote a culture of evidence-based practice. Our institution is large, but we believe nursing research journal clubs can be created to fit a nursing staff of any size. If you start a club at your institution, you will find, as we did, that it promotes staff involvement, leadership development, and research awareness.
For further information about our Nursing Research Committee and Journal Club or to view a complete list of past presenters and citations, please visit our website: www.MGHNursingResearchCommittee.org.

Selected references
Erickson J, Ditomassi M. Measuring the impact of collaborative governance: beyond empowerment. J Nurs Adm. 2003;33(10):497.
Larkin M, Griffith C, Capasso V, Cierpial C, Gettings E, Walsh K, et al. Promoting research utilization using a conceptual framework. J Nurs Adm. In press.
Pravikoff D, Tanner A, Pierce S. (2005). Readiness of U.S. nurses for evidence-based practice: many don’t understand or value research and had had little or no training to help them find evidence on which to base their practice. Am J Nurs. 2005;105(9):40-52.

Catherine A. Griffith, MSN, RN, APRN, BC, is Co-Chair of the Nursing Research Committee and a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Mary E. Larkin, MSN, RN, CDE, is Co-Chair of the Nursing Research Committee and Manager of the Diabetes Research Center. Chelby Cierpial, MSN, RN, APRN, BC, is the Chair of the Journal Club Subcommittee and a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Elise M. Gettings, RN, MPA, CRRN, is Research Nurse Coordinator. Virginia Capasso, PhD, APRN, BC, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Knight Nursing Center for Clinical and Professional Development and Co-Director of the Wound Care Center. All five authors work at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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