Clinical Nurse Specialist Roles in Conducting Research: Changes Over 3 Years

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The aim of this study is to describe clinical nurse specialists' characteristics, interest, confidence, motivators, and barriers in conducting research.


This study was a descriptive, multicohort design.


Clinical nurse specialists were recruited electronically through national and local organizations to complete anonymous surveys 3 times, over 3 years. Comparative analyses included χ and Kruskal-Wallis tests.


Of 2052 responders (initial, n = 629; 18 months, n = 465; and 3 years, n = 958), mean (SD) participant age was 50.3 (9.3) years. Overall, 41.7% of participants were involved as principal or coinvestigators in research. Interest in conducting nursing research (on a 0-100 scale) was 61.1 (38.4) and was lowest among the 18-month time point participant group (score, 39.1 [32.2]) and highest at the 3-year time point (68.3, [30.7]; P < .001). Confidence in conducting research, discussion of statistics, and perceptions of motivators and barriers to conducting research did not differ across time period groups. Access to literature and mentors and research knowledge were the most prevalent barriers to conducting research.


Less than 42% of clinical nurse specialists conducted research and the rate did not change between different time groups. Access and knowledge barriers to conducting research were prominent. Workplace leaders need to consider resources and support of academic educational opportunities to increase research conduct by clinical nurse specialists.