Ambiguity in knowledge transfer: the role of theory-practice gap

Mohammad Ali Cheraghi, Mahvash Salsali, Mahmoud Safari


BACKGROUND: In spite of much literature written about the theory-practice gap in the international nursing journals, there is evidence that indicates this subject has not been probed comprehensively since nursing education was transferred to universities in Iran.  In the recent years, the public and the government have criticized Iranian nurses because of poor quality of patient care. Although this subject has been lamented by some researchers, there is no comprehensive work on how this gap resulted. In the process of a larger study on “nursing knowledge translation to practice of my PhD thesis” this process was explored.

METHODS: Using grounded theory analysis, in-depth interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of 29 nurses, with different levels of experience, from the school of nursing in Tehran University of Medical Sciences during the period January-August 2006. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method.

RESULTS: Three main themes emerging from this study included clinical behavior structure, paradoxical knowledge and practice, and divergent nursing organization.

CONCLUSIONS: It seems that nursing education with some praxis and paradoxes in the realm of nursing knowledge and practice, along with divergent organizational structure have decreased nurses’ ability in applying their professional knowledge and skills in order to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Moreover, in spite of increased academic input into nursing education, clinical behaviors of both education and practice settings was perceived as ‘traditional routine-based’.

KEY WORDS: Iranian nursing, qualitative research, knowledge transfer, theory-practice gap.

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