Nursing research and evidence underpinning practice, policy and system transformation

Research led by nurses and the contributions they make as members of multidisciplinary research teams can drive change. Evidence from research influences and shapes the nursing profession, and informs and underpins policy, professional decision-making and nursing actions. It is the cornerstone of high-quality, evidence-based nursing.

Making research matter – The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England’s strategic plan for research is for all nurses working in health and social care, whether they are already or thinking about getting involved in research), colleagues in academia and the third sector and all those who support research.

The plan sets out the CNO’s ambition to “create a people-centred research environment that empowers nurses to lead, participate in and deliver research, where research is fully embedded in practice and professional decision making, for public benefit”. This plan complements the ambitions set out in Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery and will form part of NHS England contribution to the delivery of this vision.

Fulfilling this ambition will strengthen and expand nurses’ contribution to health and care outcomes through research of global significance.  This  provides the scientific basis for: the care of people across the lifespan;  during illness, through to recovery and at the end of life, preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing

There are 5 themes underpinning the vision:

  1. Aligning nurse-led research with public need – so the portfolios of relevant funders reflect the research priorities of patients, carers, service users, residents, the public and our profession.
  2. Releasing nurses’ research potential – to create a climate in which nurses are empowered to lead, use, deliver and participate in research as part of their job, and the voice of the profession is valued.
  3. Building the best research system – so that England isthe best place for nurses to lead, deliver and get involved in cutting-edge research.
  4. Developing future nurse leaders of research – to offer rewarding opportunities and sustainable careers that support growth in the number and diversity of nurse leaders of research.
  5. Digitally-enabled nurse-led research – to create a digitally-enabled practice environment for nursing that supports research and delivers better outcomes for the public.

Next steps

The plan will be delivered in three phases: discover, build and sustain. A detailed implementation plan, (which has developed with the profession, our partners and the public) will follow this strategic plan in Spring 2022, and set out what we will deliver in 2022 and 2023.

Together we can work towards a future where research led by nurses is business as usual in health and care settings. We are determined to: increase the involvement of the nursing profession in decision-making about research-related developments; prove that the benefits of high quality research led by nurses are beneficial; and strive for an environment hat encourages nurses to pursue a career that involves research.

The CNOs Shared Professional Decision Making Council – Research is providing a strong collective professional voice. Council members share their own personal learning as well as discussing and debating the relevant professional, clinical and operational matters important to them, their colleagues and the people they care for.  The first council was established in December 2020.

Look out for invitations to future events when you will have the opportunity to hear more about the plan, give us feedback on activities and actions you think will bring about change and let us know how you intend to play your part going forward.

If you would like to get involved in the CNO’s strategic plan for research work, then please contact to ensure you are kept up to date and aware of any upcoming opportunities.

Publication links