Nursing Research Unit

The Nursing Research Unit (NRU) aims to improve the care and outcomes for infants, children and young people within the context of an evidence-based paradigm. 

The work of the research unit is primarily to facilitate debate, promote research and provide education to enhance the development of best nursing practice.

The unit facilitates a number of initiatives across the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network to drive and develop nursing and midwifery research capability and capacity to inform practice and achieve excellence in paediatric care. 

Please contact Rose Ferris if you have any enquiries about the NRU.

The NRU team


Professor Marilyn Cruickshank, Nursing Research Director

Marilyn is Professor of Nursing (Research) at Sydney Children's Hospitals Network and UTS, and is a Registered Nurse with post graduate qualifications in paediatric intensive care, paediatric mental health, paediatric HIV, and, neurology and neuroscience nursing.  Marilyn developed a keen interest in research as a Clinical Nurse Coordinator, developing guidelines and policies for maternal transmission and for children with HIV in hospitals and the community. She is passionate about policy development and implementation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial stewardship and healthcare associated infection.

Other Research Team Members

Laurel Mimmo, Senior Research Fellow,

Lisa Sealey, Research Educator,

Rose Ferris, Administration Officer,

Janet Watson, Project Manager CNS2,

Connor Hawken, Project Manager CNS2,

New NRU projects 2022

> Device-associated harm program

This is a joint project between Queensland University and SCHN with the intention of conducting a one-day point prevalence audit early in 2022. This project will also be extended to children’s hospitals in Perth and Melbourne.

Current status:

  • Systematic literature review has been registered with Prospero and commenced
  • Project was supported by SCHN Extravasation Working Party on 17 July 2021.
  • To proceed at SCHN will require:
  • HREC approval from SCHN, SSA from CHW and SCH, and UTS
  • Establishment of governance through a steering committee (possibly incorporated into the work of the SCHN Extravasation Working Party)
  • Project staffing (possible funding from SCHN Foundation)
  • Project ready to commence with a new research lead once COVID-19 response is completed

> Paediatric Physical Assessment research program

The following three projects form the current research program of the Paediatric Physical Assessment Consortium, chaired by Verity Lucky, which oversees this research program:

  1. The Retrospective electronic chart review investigates patient observation/ vital sign and physical assessments undertaken by Registered Nurses within the SCHN. Once completed, this project will be extended to 3 NSW Local Health Districts in collaboration with the ACI Paediatric Network Clinical Nurse Consultants and the NSW Children’s Healthcare Networks.
  2. The second project is the Differences between observed nurse practice during physical assessment/vital sign collection & documentation in a general ward and the SCHN clinical guidelines/policy. This is an observational study of nurses undertaking vital signwhich complements information from the retrospective chart review.
  3. The third project in the Paediatric Physical Assessment research program is the Adaptation and validation of an adult-based Barriers to Nurses’ use of Physical Assessment Scale for use in paediatrics. This project will be the precursor to the development of a physical assessment inventory for paediatrics.

A scoping literature review led by Lisa Sealey has been commenced to provide the foundation and evidence for the Physical Assessment Program.

> Extension to multi-site research program

Engagement with the ACI Paediatric CNC Network has resulted in a multi-site research program to develop a set of core physical assessment skills that can be used by paediatric nurses that are relevant to use with babies, children and adolescents that lead to better patient outcomes, and that will enhance professional skills for paediatric nurses. The 2021-2 initiative has been funded by NSW Health Nurse Strategy Fund for a further 2 years. This multi- local health district project supports recommendations from Review of health services for children, young people and families within the NSW Health system (the Henry Review). It is anticipated that the projects will also be extended across Australia through the network of paediatric nurse researchers in AusPaNS.

Completed NRU projects

> Restrictive Practices in Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Investigators: Sealey, L., Whalen, S., Cruickshank, M., Stein-Parbury, J., Roche, M., Sheppard-Law, S.

Funding: $268,000 NSW Ministry of Health Nursing and Midwifery Office

Student: Lisa Sealey UTS MPhil (On leave due to Covid19 Redeployment)

> Family experiences of Epidermolysis Bullosa care coordination in New South Wales in the first 2 years of life

Funding:  SPHERE $25.000

Investigators: Saad, R., Sheppard-Law, S., Cruickshank, M.

Student: Rebecca, Saad. UTS BN (Hons)

> Who are our consumers?

Investigators: Sheppard-Law, S., Cruickshank, M.

> Keeping Inpatient Children Safe

Investigators: Sheppard-Law, S., Cruickshank, M., Fry, M., Brooks, F.

> Evaluation of Professional Practice Management of Nurses and Midwives Framework

Investigators: Brogan, F., Sheppard-Law, S., Cutler, D., Cruickshank. M.

> Evaluation of the SCHN 12-month development program for newly registered nursing graduates

Investigators: Watson, C., Galway, R., Sheppard-Law, S., Cruickshank, M.

> Developing a validated questionnaire to measure children, young people, and their family’s knowledge of paediatric inpatient falls risk: Phase 1 & 2

Investigators: Sheppard-Law, S., Cutler. D., Ritz Shala, D., (Research Intern), Brogan. F., (Research Intern), Cruickshank, M.

Publications by NRU Researchers 2018-2022

  • Priftis, A., Cruickshank, M., Smith, S., 2022. Methods used to assess sleep in children who attend community-based mental health programs: A systematic review. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.
  • Smith, P., Teasdale, E., Sheppard-Law, S., 2022. Parents’ experience of extended viewing in a paediatric hospice: a qualitative study. International Journal of Palliative Care. Accepted
  • Alomari, A., Sheppard-Law, S., Sim, J., Wilson, V., 2022. Reducing the incident of medication administration errors in a paediatric setting. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Accepted
  • Bui, N. H., Cruickshank, M., McAloon, J. & Maguire, J. 2021. The Effects of TV Viewing, Computer and Gaming Console Use on Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Study.
  • Bui, N. H., Paparo, J., Cruickshank, M., Maguire, J. & McAloon, J. 2021. Parental Characteristics, Handheld Screen Time and Developmental Outcomes:  A Systematic Review.
  • Bui, N.H., Cruickshank, M., McAloon, J. and Maguire, J., 2021. Handheld Devices: The Barrier for Parents with Mental Health Difficulties in Child Outcomes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, pp.1-12.
  • Bui, N. H., Cruickshank, M., McAloon, J. & Maguire, J. 2021. A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Parental Factors and Handheld Devices on Child Outcomes.
  • Sotomayor-Castillo, C., Nahidi, S., Li, C., Macbeth, D., Russo, P.L., Mitchell, B.G., Cruickshank, M., Sorrell, T., Gilroy, N., Ferguson, P. and Watts, M.R., 2021. Infection control professionals' and infectious diseases physicians' knowledge, preparedness, and experiences of managing COVID-19 in Australian healthcare settings. Infection, disease & health26(4), pp.249-257. 
  • Sealey, L., Sheppard-Law, S., Stein-Parbury, J., Roche, M., Cruickshank, M., 2021. Restrictive Practices in the SCHN Child & Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) Units 2015 – 2018. SCHN Report to NSW Ministry of Health.
  • Brogan, F., Sheppard-Law, S., Cutler, D., Cruickshank, M., 2021. Evaluation of Professional Practice Management of Nurses and Midwives Framework. Report for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
  • Watson, C., Galway, R., Sheppard-Law, S., Cruickshank, M., 2021. Evaluation of the SCHN 12-month development program for newly registered nursing graduates. Report for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
  • Geia, L., Baird, K., Bail, K., Barclay, L., Bennett, J., Best, O., Birks, M., Blackley, L., Blackman, R., Bonner, A., Bryant Ao, R., Buzzacott, C., Campbell, S., Catling, C., Chamberlain, C., Cox, L., Cross, W., Cruickshank, M., 2020. A unified call to action from Australian nursing and midwifery leaders: ensuring that Black lives matter. Contemporary Nurse56(4), pp.297-308. 
  • Cruickshank, M. and Shaban, R.Z., 2020. COVID‐19: Lessons to be learnt from a once‐in‐a‐century global pandemic. Journal of clinical nursing.
  • Sheppard‐Law, S., Cruickshank, M. and Debono, D., 2021. Mapping diversity and demographic‐based changes to a pediatric population attending a specialist tertiary hospital: a retrospective review. Journal of Clinical Nursing30(3-4), pp.466-474. 
  • Sheppard-Law, S., Brogan, F., Cruickshank, M., Kornman, K., Exploring children & young people's knowledge about inpatient falls to inform child-centred strategies. Australian National Nurses Forum, Hobart, 21 Aug 2019 - 23 Aug 2019. 01 Jan 2020 (Conference).
  • Sheppard-Law, S., Brogan, F., Shala, D.R., Kornman, K., Cruickshank, M., What do children and young people know about inpatient fallsAustralian College of Nursing, Hobart, 20 Aug 2019 - 23 Aug 2019. 01 Jan 2020 (Conference).
  • Shala, D.R., Brogan, F., Cruickshank, M., Kornman, K. and Sheppard‐Law, S., 2019. Exploring Australian parents’ knowledge and awareness of pediatric inpatient falls: A qualitative study. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing24(4), p.e12268.
  • Grayson, M.L., Stewardson, A.J., Russo, P.L., Ryan, K.E., Olsen, K.L., Havers, S.M., Greig, S., Cruickshank, M., Australia, H.H. and National Hand Hygiene Initiative, 2018. Effects of the Australian National Hand Hygiene Initiative after 8 years on infection control practices, health-care worker education, and clinical outcomes: a longitudinal study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases18(11), pp.1269-1277.
  • Sheppard‐Law, S., Zablotska‐Manos, I., Kermeen, M., Holdaway, S., Lee, A., George, J., Zekry, A. and Maher, L., 2018. Utilisation of hepatocellular carcinoma screening in Australians at risk of hepatitis B virus‐related carcinoma and prescribed anti‐viral therapy. Journal of Clinical Nursing27(13-14), pp.2673-2683.
  • Sheppard-Law, S., Curtis, S., Bancroft, J., Smith, W. and Fernandez, R., 2018. Novice clinical nurse educator’s experience of a self-directed learning, education and mentoring program: A qualitative study. Contemporary nurse54(2), pp.208-219. 
  • Kornman, K., Wilson, V., Tinsley, P., Watt, J. and Sheppard-Law, S., 2020. Improving the utilisation of nitrous oxide in paediatric patients to manage procedural pain and procedural anxiety. Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing43(1), pp.22-34. 
  • Fernandez, R., Sheppard-Law, S., Curtis, S., Bancroft, J. and Smith, W., 2018. Exploring the experiences of neophyte nurse mentors: A qualitative study. Nurse Education in Practice29, pp.76-81.
  • Ong, N., Mimmo, L., Barnett, D., Long, J., Weise, J., & Walton, M. (2022). Reported clinical incidents of children with intellectual disability: A qualitative analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.
  • Mimmo, L., Hodgins, M., Samir, N., Woolfenden, S., Travaglia, J., & Harrison, R. (2022). ‘Smiles and laughter and all those really great things’. Nurses’ perceptions of good experiences for inpatient children with intellectual disability. Journal of Advanced Nursing.
  • Nicholson, E., Conlon, C., Mimmo, L., & Doherty, E. (2022). Unscheduled healthcare for children with intellectual disabilities: a systematic scoping review. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability.
  • Mimmo, L., Woolfenden, S., Travaglia, J., Strnadová, I., Tokutake, M. and Phillips, K., van Hoek, M. and D., & Harrison, R. (2021). Co-designing patient experience measures for and with children and young people with intellectual disability: A study protocol. BMJ Open. 11(12), e050973.
  • Ní Shé, É., McDonald, F. E., Mimmo, L., Ross, X. S., Newman, B., Patterson, P., & Harrison, R. (2021). What Are the Psycho-Social and Information Needs of Adolescents and Young Adults Cancer Care Consumers with Intellectual Disability? A Systematic Review of Evidence with Recommendations for Future Research and Practice. Children, 8(12), 1118.
  • Mimmo, L., Harrison, R., Travaglia, J., Hu, N. and Woolfenden, S. (2021), Inequities in quality and safety outcomes for hospitalized children with intellectual disability. Developmental Medicine and ChildNeurology. 64 (3), 314-322.
  • Pervaz Iqbal, M., Manias, E., Mimmo, L., Mears, S., Jack, B., Hay, L., & Harrison, R. (2020). Clinicians’ experience of providing care: a rapid review. BMC Health Services Research, 20(1), 1-10.
  • Mimmo, L., Woolfenden, S., Travaglia, J., & Harrison, R. (2020). Creating equitable healthcare quality and safety for children with intellectual disability in hospital. Child: Care, Health and Development, 46(5),644-649.
  • Mimmo, L., Woolfenden, S., Travaglia, J., & Harrison, R. (2019). Partnerships for safe care: A metanarrative of the experience for the parent of a child with Intellectual Disability in hospital. Health Expectations, 22(6), 1199-1212.
  • Mimmo, L., Harrison, R., & Hinchcliff, R. (2018). Patient safety vulnerabilities for children with intellectual disability in hospital: a systematic review and narrative synthesis. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 2(1).