environment, and the status of staff nurses. A variety of converging forces resulted in an escalation in nursing research in the 1950s. This included an increase in the number of nurses with advanced educational degrees and the availability of many master's programs that required a thesis, the establishment of the nursing research grants and fellowship programs of the Division of Nursing of the Public Health Service, establishment of the American Nurses' Foundation to foster research, and the establishment of the professional journal Nursing Research (Polit and Hungler, 1978; Wilson, 1985). In the 1960s the focus was on theoretical bases for nursing practice, along with a continuing attention to students and nursing education. From the 1970s to the present the focus of research in nursing has been on the improvement of patient care. Establishment of the National Center for Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1985 not only fostered these efforts but also, by establishing a national nursing research agenda, served to draw the research efforts of nurses into priority areas.
In nursing research, training is well developed from the undergraduate level, through the postdoctoral level, and through midcareer development. Nurses currently holding doctorates may have been prepared for clinical research through a nursing doctoral program or a doctoral program in a related discipline such as one in the biological, social, or behavioral sciences. The pool of doctorate-prepared nurses capable of pursuing careers in clinical research is on the increase. The number of such individuals, however, is insufficient to meet the current demand in academic and clinical settings where research and research training are conducted. In addition, the frequent lack of administrative and undervaluing of support of clinical research, combined with the availability of lucrative administrative, clinical, and consultative positions, reduces the number of individuals drawn to and retained in clinical research.
There are numerous opportunities for clinical research in nursing. Nursing research focuses on major public health issues with the purpose of providing accurate and reliable information that will improve nursing practice. The ultimate goal is to promote health and ameliorate disease for the American public. The critical issue is the need to accelerate the conduct and support of nursing research and research training to more effectively attack public health concerns.
Nursing research involves the study of the human biological and psychological responses to health and illness across the life span. Nursing research does not focus on disease or the treatment of disease but rather on individuals' and families' responses to the disease and subsequent treatments. There is a strong orientation toward health promotion and disease prevention and