Registered Nurses’ perceived importance of knowledge sources in relation to structural empowerment
Background: Empirical knowledge is a highly valued knowledge source. Empirical, esthetic, moral/ethical, personal, sociopolitical and unknowing are six knowledge sources used in nursing practice. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the importance of the six knowledge sources and the relationship of these knowledge sources to structural empowerment (SE) by clinical practice nurses employed in adult specialty areas. Methods: Clinical vignettes were used to determine the importance of the six knowledge sources and SE was measured by the Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire-II. Data from qualitative interviews provided further understanding related to the use of pluralistic knowledge sources by the nurse participants. Results: The nurse participants perceived all six knowledge sources as important in clinical practice. Perceptions of SE were partially explained by the nurse participants’ perceived importance of the six knowledge sources and personal knowledge. The qualitative interviews revealed that the nurse participants valued the knowledge of their peers particularly in unfamiliar clinical situations. A myriad of personal and professional consequences were described by participants when their practice environments were perceived to be uncaring including feelings of anger and emotional exhaustion. Significance: The nurse participants valued pluralistic knowledge sources and wanted to use more of each of the six knowledge sources. The clinical context, patient acuity and time were important factors in the types of knowledge sources used by the nurse participants.