Evidence-based Leadership in Nursing

Principal investigator

Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku
Maritta Välimäki, RN, PhD

Team members

Maija Satamo
Min Yang
Jaakko Varpula
Yao Tang
Wenjun Chen
Shuang Hu
Jiarui Chen
Eliisa Löyttyniemi
Bishwesvar Singh
Xianhong Li (Co-PI)

Tella Lantta, (Administrative tasks)


The role of nurse leaders is important in ensuring a high quality of care, patient outcomes and organisational efficiency. However, the decisions made by nurse leaders are often based on personal experience, intuition, and views and this could be improved. It is important for them to understand the role of evidence-based knowledge in practice.

This educational project focuses on nurse leaders’ ability to adapt approach of evidence-based leadership in health care settings and increase teachers’ skills to produce advanced level leadership education programs at the universities. The project bridges the gap between the need of academically educated nurse leaders in health services and the high-quality education system by developing and testing training program for advanced evidence-based leadership to solve complex leadership and management problems in health care organisations. The project takes place in years 2020-2023.


  • To develop nurses’ leadership capacities in collaboration with higher education academic universities and clinical practice in Finland and China

The sub-goals are:
1) To be able to identify problems in nursing leadership among nurse leaders, master/doctoral
students and teachers in Finland and China;
2 To develop the curriculum for online leadership program to satisfy learning needs;
3 To implement the online leadership program into practice;
4 To evaluate the implementation impacts of the program from individual and organisational
point of views; and
5) To develop national and international networks between nurse leaders, master/doctoral
students, and teachers between Finland and China.


A. Material outcomes and outputs:
A.1. New curriculum for evidence-based leadership. The project will produce new curriculum to support participants’ opportunities to become experts in implementing evidence-based knowledge in their daily practices.
A2. Learning material: The project produces new learning material, which will help to increase the quality of education. Examples are power points, videos to be used in English [later in Finnish and Chinese], reading lists, students’ evaluation forms.
A3. Project description at the partner website (in English, Finnish, and Chinese languages)
A6. Publications
A7. Interim Report and Final Reports

B. Immaterial outcomes and outputs:
B1. Higher self-confidence of the participants: The better language skills, a deeper understanding of different cultures, increased transferable skills among students, nurse leaders, and teachers (e.g., communication skills, teaching skills, ability to cooperate in international environment, awareness of modern leadership methods, ability to manage complex health environment using evidence-based knowledge).

B2. Establishing new networking and cooperation inside and outside countries with new partners: People in different settings and organisations in Finland and China can share their experiences related to nursing leadership and evidence-based practice.
B3. Transparency in role of nurse leaders in Finland and China.
B4. Participation in active decision making in the society: The project will promote lifelong learning and equal activities while it supports students in different ages and different gender.
B5. Providing a global vision about nurse leaders. The cooperation may be extended to other areas where professional practice and academia can work together and benefit each other in both countries.
B6. Improvement of better self-awareness skills needed in high-quality leadership: Better self-confidence corresponding the international standards in leadership; better student outcomes.
B7. Ideas for new research areas and funding in both countries.


• Working groups (1 international, national) were established in both countries including researchers, students, and teachers
• Online course related to nurse leadership was developed in Finnish and Chinese languages
• 7 Modules and the final assignment was designed (6 months)


Feasibility of an online training course was assessed in Finland and China. 140 nurse leaders in Finland and 160 nurse leaders in China were invited to join the evaluation study.


Full RCT will be conducted in Finland and China in autumn 2024-2025 to evaluate the effectiveness of an online training course to improve nurse leaders’ leadership skills.


– Protocol of the systematic review: PROSPERO (CRD42021259624): Välimäki M, Lantta T, Hipp K, Varpula J, Liu G, Tang Y, Hu S, Li X. Measured and perceived impacts of evidence-based leadership in nursing: a mixed methods systematic review protocol. PROSPERO 2021 CRD42021259624 https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42021259624.

– Full protocol of the systematic review: Välimäki M, Lantta T, Hipp K, Varpula J, Liu G, Tang Y, Chen W, Hu S, Li X. (2021). Measured and perceived impacts of evidence-based leadership in nursing: A mixed-methods systematic review protocol. BMJ Open, 11(10): e055356. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055356.

– Full review: Hu S, Välimäki M, Liu S, Li X, Chen J, Huang W, Liu X, Guo W, Chen W, Chen J, Hu J. Coaching to develop leadership of healthcare managers: a mixed-method systematic review.

– Full review: Välimäki M., Hu S., Lantta T., Hipp K., Varpula J., Chen J., Liu G., Tang Y., Chen W., and LI X. The impact of evidence-based nursing leadership in healthcare settings: a mixed-methods systematic review. Submitted. Submitted.

– Registration: Evidence-based Leadership in Nurse Leaders-CH (EVILEAD-CH), registered 17 February 2022 in Clinicaltrials.gov (ID NCT05244499).

– Registration: Evidence-based Leadership in Nurse Leaders-FI (EVILEAD-FI), registered 17 February 2022 in Clinicaltrials.gov (ID NCT05244512).

– Full protocol: Välimäki M, Hipp K, Yang M, Lantta T, Varpula J, Liu G, Tang Y, Chen W, Hu S, Chen J, Löyttyniemi E, Li X (2023). Online training to improve evidence-based leadership competencies among nurse leaders in finland and china: Study protocols for two randomised feasibility trials. BMJ Open, 13(8): e067306-e067306. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-067306.

– Hu S, Chen W, Satamo M, Löyttyniemi E, Yang M, Liu G, Chen J, Tang Y, Varpula J, Li X, Välimäki M. Online training to improve evidence-based leadership competencies among nurse leaders in China: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. Submitted 3 January 2024.

– Välimäki M, Satamo M, Yang M, Varpula J, Tang Y, Chen W, Hu S, Chen J, Löyttyniemi E, Singh B, Li X. Online training to improve evidence-based leadership competencies among nurse leaders: a randomised feasibility trial in Finland. Manuscript.

– Project website at the UTU (https://sites.utu.fi/nursingscienceresearchprogrammes/evidence-based-leadership-in-nursing/) and CSU (https://xynursing.csu.edu.cn/info/1207/5842.htm).

– Conference abstract: Välimäki M, Satamo M, Yang M, Varpula J, Tang Y, Chen W, Hu S, Chen J, Löyttyniemi E, Singh B, Li X. Opportunities and challenges in communicating evidence to nurse leaders: experiences of online courses in Finland and China. The ecosystem of evidence. Lessons learned in the pandemic era and future challenges. 10th International Conference for EBHT Teachers and developers. Taormina, 25-28 October, 2023.


  • Visit 28.5.-3.6.2023 in Helsinki and Turku, Finland
  • Visit 10.11.-18.11.2023 in Shanghai, China


This project responds to an urgent service and educational need and wider implications of cooperation between the disciplines, educational organisations, teachers, students, and countries.


University of Turku (Finland)
The City of Helsinki (Finland)
The wellbeing services county of Central Finland (Finland)
Central South University, Xiangya Nursing School (China)
Xiangya Hospital of Central South University (China)
Tumor Hospital (China)


The project is supported by Finnish National Agency of Education, Asia Programme 2020.

Evidence-based Leadership in Nursing- project visitors met people in Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (above) and in Helsinki University Hospital (below).