Lo TKT, Hoben M, Norton PG, Teare GF, Estabrooks CA. (2018). Importance of clinical educators to research use and suggestions for better efficiency and effectiveness: results of a cross-sectional survey of care aides in Canadian long-term care facilities. BMJ Open, 8:e020074.
Objective: This study explored the effect of clinical educators as facilitators of research use and how it may be modified by organisational context in the settings.
Design: Cross-sectional observational study.
Setting: A representative sample of 91 residential long-term care (LTC) facilities across Western Canada.
Participants: We used surveys to collect data from the frontline care aides and information about the organisational context of the care units.
Outcome measure and explanatory variables We assessed research use (the outcome) with the Conceptual Research Utilization (CRU) scale. Explanatory variables in the multiple regression analysis were facilitation, organisational context and the interaction terms. Facilitation was measured by the frequency of contacts between care aides and clinical educator or person who brings new ideas about resident care. Three core organisational context variables were measured using the Alberta Context Tool.
Results We included data of 3873 care aides from 294 care units in the LTC facilities. We found significant associations between CRU and facilitation, leadership, culture and evaluation. Interactions of facilitation x leadership and facilitation x culture were negative. The coefficient of the facilitation x evaluation term in the regression model was positive (0.019, 95% CI 0.012 to 0.026), suggesting synergistic effects between facilitation and a well-developed process to evaluate care quality using relevant data.
Conclusions Findings indicate clinical educators are effective facilitators of research use among the care aides, but the effect is modified by organisational context. For greatest impact, managers can direct efforts of the clinical educators to care units where leadership and culture ratings are lowest, but a proficient feedback and evaluation process is in place. This understanding enables managers to deploy clinical educators (a scarce resource in LTC settings) most efficiently.
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