This page forms part of the Priorities for R&D in nursing resource, published between 1997-1999, and is preserved as an historical document for reference purposes only. Some information contained within it may no longer refer to current practice.

Priorities for R&D in nursing

This page brings together work from the UK that focuses on the identification of priorities in nursing. It is presented here for its historical value. Much of the outcomes of this work can be seen in the Research Careers section of this website.


To improve the involvement of nurses, midwives and health visitors in R&D in nursing, the Nursing Professions' R&D Priority Setting Initiative was established in 1997. This initiative was a collaboration between the RCN and the Centre for Policy in Nursing Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The Nursing Professions' R&D Priority Setting Initiative brought together over 120 individuals (nurses and colleagues) who participated in 4 review groups in order to test out a systematic process for the identification of nursing priorities for R&D. the review groups were:


No priority setting process is perfect, but what this initiative demonstrated was the potential of the nursing professions to collectively identify priorities for research.

A catalogue of the reviews undertaken can be accessed here and a list of the emergent publications and presentations can be accessed here.

Further to this initial work a number of important developments have taken place:

  1. Ross F, Vernon S, Smith E (2002) Mapping Research in primary care nursing: current activity and future priorities. NT Research 7(1) 46-57
  2. Ross F, MacKenzie A, Smith E, Masterson A, Wood C (2002) Identifying Research Priorities for Nursing and Midwifery Service Delivery and Organisation. A report to the National Coordinating Centre for NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Research and Development Nursing and Midwifery Subgroup. Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St. George's Hospital Medical School & Kingston University. Report available here: http://www.sdo.nihr.ac.uk/sdo202002.html

R&D infrastructure and capacity & capability building

In addition to identifying priorities for empirical research, the Nursing Professions' R&D Priority Setting Initiative also acknowledged that infrastructure and capacity & capability building were imperatives.

Following on from the Nursing Professions' R&D Priority Setting Initiative, proposals were put forward to establish a "Strategic Alliance for Research in Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting" (SARN). A programme of work was undertaken under the auspices of a shadow SARN which led to three discrete outputs:

  1. "Raising the profile of nursing research amongst Medical Research Charities: Executive Summary" (MS word 33KB)
  2. A survey of the individuals invited to take part in the first Phase of the Initiative (MS word, 131K)
  3. The UK contribution (MS word, 73K) to the Euroconference, "Building a European Nursing Research Strategy" (13th - 17th March 1999).

Further to this initial work a number of important developments have taken place:

  1. The Department of Health and Higher Education Funding Council for England commissioned report, The Taskgroup Three report, "Promoting research in nursing and the allied health professions" [November 2001]
  2. Scottish Executive publication, "Choices and Challenges - the strategy for research and development for nursing and midwifery in Scotland" [ Dec 02] Sets the agenda for the future of nursing and midwifery research and development as indicated in Caring for Scotland 2001.
  3. A group of experts from across the UK who believe that R&D is a means of promoting excellence in care have formed a Working Party to consider ways in which a culture that values and promotes both research and development in nursing can be identified, developed, sustained and rewarded. More information here
  4. McMahon, A., Bishop, V., & Shaw, T. (2000) Nurse Executive Directors Making a Difference: Report of a Workshop held at the Royal College of Nursing Annual Nursing Research Conference, Sheffield. RCN R&D Co-ordinating Centre, Manchester (MS word, 143K)
  5. McMahon A., Irwin P, Redehan, E (2003) Identifying priorities for strengthening and developing the nursing contribution in a field of practice: A case study in stroke care. NT Research, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 202-211

If you have any comments or queries on any aspect of this page, please contact Ann McMahon, email: ann.mcmahon@rcn.org.uk