Try These Topics for Your Nursing Research

Research furthers the science of a discipline by seeking answers to relevant questions.

In nursing, there are many paths a researcher can take in deciding on a topic worthy of a research study or project. Researchers may seek input from The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The NIHR has an established list of research priorities it provides funding for and includes the major categories of

  • Symptom Science: Promoting Personalized Health Strategies
  • Wellness: Promoting Health and Preventing Disease
  • Self-Management: Improving Quality of Life for Individuals with Chronic Illness
  • End-of-Life and Palliative Care: The Science of Compassion

Additional resources include the numerous nursing organizations which often set priorities in research particular to the organization’s mission and strategic plan. However, if you are a student working on a dissertation or scholarly project, or a beginning researcher, your focus will more likely be on a local topic.

Areas of Interest

As a starting point to identify your area of interest, the concepts of person, nursing, health, and environment (known as the meta-paradigm of nursing) are broad areas. From each concept, a researcher can drill down to a specific patient population, specialty of nursing, category of health care problem or particular context.

For example, perioperative nurses focus on the surgical patient’s experience in the pre-, intra-, and post-operative environment. They focus on safely navigating patients from start to finish during their surgical experience. Many circumstances exist that may affect the patient’s experience. It is the intent of the researcher to develop questions that seek to answer what the issues or concerns may be. Nurse educators’ interests may be in the areas of curriculum development, teaching and learning strategies, and student success. Advanced practice nurses focus their research on the transfer of clinical research to practice. Nurse informaticists are interested in researching electronic medical records, communication across information systems, and standardization of language.

These are just a few examples of topics related to a particular nursing specialty. Nurse researchers also study particular patient problems and the role nurses play in assisting patients in managing their healthcare needs. Studies are usually focused on the individual, group, or community.

Points to Consider

Important points to consider in identifying a research area is your own experience with the topic, the ability to access the population you want to study, the cost and length of time to complete the study, and last but not least, your passion for the topic. The Competency and Credentialing Institute Research Foundation has its own research categories/priorities to assist researchers applying for a grant relevant to perioperative nursing. These include:

  • Organizational Climate/Culture
  • Leadership/Management
  • Nurse Clinical Practice
  • Nurse Performance
  • Nursing Education and Certification

Once a researcher decides on a topic, several steps must be taken to develop a quality research study. It takes more than the work of one individual and often an interdisciplinary team is formed to address the particular healthcare issue under study.

If you are still unsure of a topic, take time to review the scientific literature, see what topics are current, what areas are affecting you directly or indirectly, what impact your study will have on the discipline and whether it could have significance in the areas of nursing research, education, practice, or policy. Research takes time and commitment but the reward is knowing your intervention or study findings could contribute to improving the lives of others in a meaningful way.

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