Asking questions to inform practice and better health outcomes: Building a culture of inquiry

Associate Professor Kathleen Tori1, Professor Christine Stirling1, Professor Karen Francis1

1University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia


  1. To challenge attendees to ask questions when they see or feel that something isn’t quite right (intuitive knowing) or they cannot rationalise why something is being done.
  2. To promote questioning as a basis for practice and policy advancement and realisation of quality improvement, best practice and improved health outcomes.
  3. Promote research as a quality improvement activity and a tool for escalating and implementing identified change.

Workshop content

  1. Overview of workshop
  2. Why ask questions?
    1. Augment knowledge
    2. Improve practice
    3. Enhance health outcomes
    4. Reduce risk
  3. How can the questions posed be addressed?
    1. Seeking information from recognised experts
    2. Desk top searches of the literature (Cochrane, JBI and other databases)
    3. Designing and implementing a quality improvement process (generally related to process concerns)
    4. Conceptualising a research project
  4. Tools to aid designing processes for addressing questions (quality improvement process, research techniques/methodologies and methods, working with people who have research/ quality improvement skills )
  5. Ethical considerations
  6. Dissemination of outcomes
    1. Internal
    2. External (State, national, international)


Professor Karen Francis

Professor Francis  is the Head of Nursing, University of Tasmania. She has over 30 years teaching experience at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in nursing, allied health and medical programs at a number of Australian and international Universities. Her research interests and expertise are in the areas of health workforce particularly rural health and rural nursing. Professor Francis is recognised nationally and internationally for her contribution to the development of rural nursing as a specialist discipline.  She has a significant publication track record that is inclusive of over 160 scholarly papers, 5 books and 27 chapters in edited books.

Professor Christine Stirling

Professor Stirling (Ba Nursing, MPA, PhD) is nurse academic who is Associate Head of School of Nursing University of Tasmania, with an Honorary Professorship with the University of East Anglia UK. She influences policy and translation with her current roles as President Australian Association Gerontology, Member of the National Aged Care Alliance, Member of the Aged Services IRC (currently reviewing national VET sector and higher education training qualifications) all giving her opportunities to contribute to national level policy development. Professor Stirling has led implementation mixed method research for two decades including a long involvement in evaluating health promotion programs for community organisations (for example Australian Heart Foundation) and health service innovation research.

Associate Professor Kathleen Tori

Dr Kathleen Tori is an endorsed Nurse Practitioner (NP) and completed her PhD studies in the area of advanced practice nursing. Kathy’s clinical, academic and research interests include all facets of nursing models of health care delivery: transitional processes of the role, barriers and enablers which challenge successful implementation, economic impact and sustainability of emerging nurse-led health care, particularly in rural areas.