Aims: Nurses engaged in clinical inquiry ask questions and seek to improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. A knowledgeable, research-enabled and research-active nursing workforce is fundamental to quality, safety and innovation in cancer care. However, the contribution of nursing knowledge and support to engage in clinical practice research has largely been overlooked. The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) nurse-led research innovation hub (the Hub) aims to facilitate a collaborative network to enable, grow research literacy, support and promote nurse-led cancer research activity across seven VCCC clinical partners.
Methods: A 3-stage formative evaluation design was utilised to identify and develop the Hub strategies and activities. Stage 1 consisted of consultations with clinical and academic leaders to identify key issues and opportunities. Stage 2 stage consisted of a scoping review identifying what strategies could potentially be beneficial. Stage 3 included focus groups and interviews with a range of cancer nurses from each clinical partner organisation to explore their response to proposed Hub strategies. Subsequently, a research capacity survey to identify perceived skills and research activity was circulated to cancer nurses employed within clinical partner organisations.
Results: The main finding in stage 1 was that nurses need to be empowered and supported to engage in research through pragmatic strategies. The idea of a “central place” (i.e. the Hub) where sharing could occur to support grass-roots research development was prioritised as a key enabler. In stage 2, the review identified some educational and mentoring strategies, but had limited impact. A multi-modal program was considered a more appropriate approach. Stage 3 is currently in progress. Interim analysis suggests that the proposed multi-modal approach is useful, but refinements are required.
Conclusion: Developing a complex program using a formative evaluation approach enables a responsive program which is fit-for-purpose, acceptable, feasible and adapted to the needs cancer nurses.