Anne Sales PhD, RN, Deputy Editor, Medical Care
A few months ago, Medical Care published a special issue, reporting on several of the 40 projects funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) program. This edition represents a milestone in the ongoing journey of studying and reporting on the relationship between nursing care and outcomes for patients, providers, and systems of care. As the papers in this special issue highlight, there have been consistent improvements in methods and findings, leading to a better understanding of how nursing care contributes and is valued.
As this year’s AcademyHealth meeting draws near, I am reminded of my initial experience with this work. One of the gathering places for the research community where RWJF senior program officer Lori Melichar described the INQRI program in its early days was the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Nursing Issues (IRGNI), a special interest group organized through AcademyHealth. Several of the researchers on the interdisciplinary teams funded through INQRI were members of IRGNI, and used the annual IRGNI meetings at each AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting to develop relationships and build teams. Since its inception, INQRI funded a number of highly leveraged and valuable collaborations, extending and building the community of researchers who engage in nursing health services and intervention research.
The degree to which the INQRI program has fostered a true community of researchers who are likely to continue their collaborations and research foci long after the end of the program was evident during the program’s 2012 national conference. The authors of the papers took the opportunity provided during the event to talk with each other, present their ideas to stakeholders, and use these interactions to develop their ideas.
After several months of working with the authors of each paper, and the individuals who provided valuable feedback through the review process, I think the collection of papers in this special issue achieve the purpose of celebrating the life of an important and valuable funding program, but also provide benchmarks for assessing progress in several areas of interdisciplinary research focusing on nursing care. I think it’s important to contextualize these papers in a wider context than a single funding program, no matter how valuable and important that program has been. The review of nursing research at the beginning and end of the INQRI program provides some evidence of changes over this period. However, it is important to note that similar progress can be seen in other countries and other interdisciplinary areas. The focal area of implementation research, commented on in some papers in this issue, has grown considerably over this period, and nurse researchers have continued in leading roles in this work, as they have in the period before the term “implementation research” came into wide use. INQRI’s special issue of Medical Care highlights much of this work, and introduces some new themes and findings. As implementation research grows and expands into new areas, staying current can be a challenge. I invite readers to take a look at the April special issue of the International Journal of Nursing Studies as well, to get a sense of how nurse researchers in other countries are involved in similar work, and extending our knowledge about how nursing contributes to improved services and systems around the world.
Recently, I noted that the IRGNI group has posted their agenda for the upcoming meeting. I was pleased to find that things have gone full circle, as I realized that INQRI grantee (and contributor to this special edition), Olga Yakusheva is one of the presenters. Clearly, the impact of this work continues.