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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Georgia State Study Finds Nurses Struggle to Interpret Statistics at Work

A pilot study finds that many nurses who hold master’s degrees feel that their coursework failed to give them the skills they need to handle statistical tasks at work, and more than half of the respondents reported that they struggle to interpret the statistics they encounter in healthcare settings.

The results highlight “existing gaps between classroom training and work place demands,” according to the paper “Statistical Preparedness of Master’s Degree-Prepared Nurses in the Workplace”.

The paper, published earlier this month in Nurse Educator, was co-authored by Dr. Matthew J. Hayat, an associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, and Dr. MyoungJin Kim, an associate professor at Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University.

The authors assert that a strong foundation in statistics is important because practicing nurses need to be able to “adequately read and assess evidence presented in a paper, dispel myths with a patient about junk science read on the Internet, or keep up-to-date with best practices.”

The findings were based on a study of master’s graduates from a Midwest nursing program, with 41 of the 72 subjects submitting surveys assessing their education and recent workplace experiences. Several survey participants recalled that their classroom training in statistics was often “boring” and failed to draw a connection between statistical techniques and how they could be used in the workplace.

More than a third of respondents said they would benefit from additional instruction in statistics. In particular, respondents said they would most benefit from a better understanding of applied regression, applied time series, and multivariate methods.

The authors conclude that additional studies are needed to assess whether the findings apply beyond the pilot group, especially as nursing master’s programs increasingly offer statistics classes online.

To read the full paper, go to: http://journals.lww.com/nurseeducatoronline/Abstract/publishahead/Statistical_Preparedness_of_Master_s.99950.aspx

To learn more about Dr. Hayat’s work, go to: http://publichealth.gsu.edu/profile/matt-hayat/