Journal List > J Korean Acad Nurs Adm > v.22(1) > 1051879

Moon, Song, Kim, Park, Kim, Kim, and Jang: Action Research in Hospital Settings: A Literature Review of International Nursing Journals



Purpose of this study was to identify major trends of action research from 2006 to 2013 and suggest directions for activating and advancing domestic action research in nursing.


A review was made of 118 action research studies in hospital settings reported in international journals. Search from PubMed, Ovid, and CINHAL was done using analysis criteria developed by the researchers. General and methodological characteristics and focus on changing outcomes of action research were analyzed.


The major group of researchers belonged to colleges/universities (40.7%). Methods included use of qualitative methods (61.0%), research questions (24.6%), and use of theoretical models (35.6%). Prevalent data collection methods were interviews (20.2%), and 48.3% showed more than a 1-cycle process including spiral circulation structure. Focus of changing outcomes of the 56 papers including more than 1-cycle were practice (66.1%), environment (8.9%), client-nurse (7.1%).


Trends in action research in nursing were identified providing necessary reasons to increase action research in nursing as follows: needs of various researchers including stakeholders as well as healthcare providers, various research designs including unconstrained reflection and writing, specific presentation of adapted theoretical models and action strategies, and quality assurance for validity and reliability of research processes and outcomes.

Figures and Tables

Figure 1

Literature selection process in this study.

Table 1

General Characteristics of the Literature (N=118)


*Top 5 countries; Multiple responses; NHS=National health service; UK=United Kingdom; USA=United States of America.

Table 2

Methodological Characteristics of the Action Research (N=118)


*Lewin K. Action research and minority problems. The Journal of Social Issues 1946;2(4):34-46; Rigour and quality. In: Koch T, Kralik D, editors. Participatory action research in health care. Oxford; Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.; 2006. pp. 137~149; participatory action research; §Kemmis S, McTaggart R. The action research planner.3rd ed. Waurn Ponds, Vic.: Deakin University: Distributed by Deakin University Press; 1988; Coghlan D, Casey M. Action research from the inside: issues and challenges in doing action research in your own hospital. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2001;35 (5):674~682.; Wadsworth Y. Everyday evaluation on the run. 2nd ed. St. Leonards NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin; 1997; **for example, it included that just stated AR, PAR, or Emancipatory AR; ††Multiple responses; ‡‡nurse & nurse manager, nursing students, nursing professors, & other healthcare professionals; §§adults patients, ped-adolescents patients; ∥∥family guardians, caregivers, & other well participants; ¶¶the most frequent top 5 strategy.

Table 3

Focus of Research Outcomes of the Action Research with a Cyclic Process (N=56)



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