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Nurses' views of using computerized decision support software in NHS Direct

O'Cathain, A., Sampson, F.C., Munro, J.F., Thomas, K.J. and Nicholl, J.P. (2004) Nurses' views of using computerized decision support software in NHS Direct. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45 (3). pp. 280-286. ISSN 1365-2648


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Background. Nurses working in NHS Direct, the 24-hour telephone advice line in England, use computerized decision support software to recommend to callers the most appropriate service to contact, or to advise on self-care.

Aims. To explore nurses' views of their roles and the computerized decision support software in NHS Direct.

Methods. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 24 NHS Direct nurses in 12 sites.

Findings. Nurses described both the software and themselves as essential to the clinical decision-making process. The software acted as safety net, provider of consistency, and provider of script, and was relied upon more when nurses did not have clinical knowledge relevant to the call. The nurse handled problems not covered by the software, probed patients for the appropriate information to enter into the software, and interpreted software recommendations in the light of contextual information which the software was unable to use. Nurses described a dual process of decision-making, with the nurse as active decision maker looking for consensus with the software recommendation and ready to override recommendations made by the software if necessary. However, nurses' accounts of the software as a guide, prompt or support did not fully acknowledge the power of the software, which they are required to use, and the recommendation of which they are required to follow under some management policies. Over time, the influence of nurse and software merges as nurses internalize the software script as their own knowledge, and navigate the software to produce recommendations that they feel are most appropriate.

Conclusions. The nurse and the software have distinct roles in NHS Direct, although the effect of each on the clinical decision-making process may be difficult to determine in practice.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Advanced Nursing: complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of Journal of Advanced Nursing, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal's website at www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0309-2402 or www.blackwell-synergy.com
Keywords: NHS Direct, nurse, computerized decision support software
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Health and Related Research (Sheffield) > Medical Care Research Unit (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > University of Sheffield Research Centres and Institutes > Medical Care Research Unit (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2005
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 23:24
Published Version: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1046/...
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02894.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/556

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