The extent to which practice nurses use the best available evidence to inform their activities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke prevention is not known. This paper reports on a study designed to explore the extent to which practice nurses use the available evidence in the prevention of CVD and stroke, and to explore the associations between research utilization and other individual and organizational factors. A national survey of practice nurses employed in 11 health authorities was conducted. Self-completion questionnaires were returned by 1187 practice nurses (response rate 60.4%). In relation to the risk factors smoking, hypertension, raised plasma cholesterol and lack of exercise, the majority of practice nurses reported interventions which are supported by research evidence. However, only 66% of the respondents recommended nicotine patches for smoking cessation, 42% referred patients for hypertension at levels above those recommended by national guidelines, and only 3.9% followed the latest recommended guidelines for exercise prescription. Statistically significant associations were found between total research utilization scores and a number of individual and organizational characteristics. The study findings are discussed together with their implications for practice and education.
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