Newswise — Nurses with specialty certification may play an integral part in speeding translation of the latest research into everyday clinical practice, thereby ensuring that critically ill patients receive the highest quality of care, according to a study conducted at UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center).

A survey of 268 critical care nurses in six UPMC hospitals found a strong association between nurses who were certified in critical care and their knowledge of and perceived value in specific evidence-based practices used to care for patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

The results, “Factors Associated with Nurses’ Knowledge of and Perceived Value in Evidence-Based Practices,” are published in the January issue of American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC).

Overall, respondents reported a high level of perceived knowledge of three specific evidence-based practices used in caring for patients receiving mechanical ventilation: spontaneous breathing trials, lung-protective ventilation and daily interruption of sedation. When compared with noncertified nurses, certified nurses reported greater perceived value of all three practices and significantly more perceived knowledge of spontaneous breathing trials and lung-protective ventilation.

In addition, all respondents reported strong professional identity, self-efficacy and role clarity, all with mean scores greater than 4.0 on a 5-point scale. Nurses who held specialty certification reported higher levels of self-efficacy and role clarity than their noncertified colleagues.

An interdisciplinary research team with the Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Critical Care Medicine conducted the study in 12 adult intensive care units (ICUs) within six UPMC hospitals. The 44-item survey was associated with a larger study examining ICU team function and the delivery of evidence-based practices, with funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and its National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“Many evidence-based practices remain underused, partly because of gaps between providers’ attitudes toward practices and the delivery of care at the bedside. Our findings support the value of nurses with specialty certification, especially among institutions that aim to improve outcomes and increase the adoption of evidence-based practices,” said co-author Kristin Hittle Gigli, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN, a postdoctoral research fellow at the CRISMA Center.   

The results did not indicate a strong relationship between nurses’ education levels and evidence-based practices, and the researchers point to the high percentage of respondents with a bachelor’s degree or higher (70.9%) as a potential factor in the lack of association. In addition, the survey did not ask about years of experience or certifications other than CCRN, which may be additional elements influencing nurses’ individual beliefs and perceptions.

CCRN® specialty certification is for nurses who provide direct care to acutely/critically ill adult, pediatric or neonatal patients regardless of their physical location. Nurses interested in this certification may work in areas such as intensive care units, cardiac care units, combined ICU/CCUs, medical/surgical ICUs, trauma units or critical care transport/flight.

CCRN is one of several credentials granted by AACN Certification Corporation, the credentialing arm of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Currently, more than 120,000 acute and critical care nurses hold AACN Certification Corporation credentials: CCRN, CCRN-K, CCRN-E, PCCN, PCCN-K, ACNPC, ACNPC-AG, CCNS, ACCNS-AG, ACCNS-P, ACCNS-N, CMC and CSC. For more information, visit

To access the article and full-text PDF, visit the AJCC website at


About the American Journal of Critical Care: The American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC), a bimonthly scientific journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides leading-edge clinical research that focuses on evidence-based-practice applications. Established in 1992, the award-winning journal includes clinical and research studies, case reports, editorials and commentaries. AJCC enjoys a circulation of more than 120,000 acute and critical care nurses and can be accessed at

About AACN Certification Corporation: AACN Certification Corporation, the credentialing arm of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, drives patient health and safety through comprehensive credentialing of acute and critical care nurses, ensuring practice consistent with standards of excellence. Since 1976, AACN Certification Corporation has granted more than 120,000 nursing certifications.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;

Journal Link: American Journal of Critical Care, January 2020