last updated 1/2007

How do nurses use new technologies to inform decision making?

This is a Department of Health funded project, which aims to explore the impact of new technologies on nurses' decision making. It is being carried out by the Department of Health Sciences and the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) at the University of York, the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Southampton, and the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University.

The aims of the project are to:

  1. Identify areas of practice in the NHS where new decision support technologies have been introduced or where their introduction is imminent.
  2. Explore how new technologies are used to inform nurse decision making in practice and the potential effect these may have on the care delivery process and patient outcomes.
  3. Examine the role of education and training in the introduction and use of new technologies in practice.

The above aims will be addressed through the following activities:

Systematic review

We have conducted a systematic review of clinical trials that evaluate the impact of nurses' use of Computerised Decision Support Systems (CDSS) on professional performance and patient outcomes.


We have carried out a survey of a random sample of 50% of all NHS Trusts in England in order to find out what CDSS are currently being used by nurses within the NHS.

Secondary analysis

To provide further context to the research, we have carried out secondary analysis of observational and interview data that was collected as part of previous projects on nurse decision making that were carried out at the University of York and the University of Southampton. The York researchers have looked at interview transcipts and field notes from a project carried out looking at information sources used by primary care nurses to inform their decision making. This data has been analysed to identify the role that IT played in their decision making. The Southampton researchers have looked at transcripts of interviews with nurses working at NHS Direct to consider their experiences of using CDSS.

Case studies

At present, we are carrying out further research at innovative case sites that were identified through the national survey. Through interviews with staff and patients and observation of the technologies in use, we are exploring professional and patient attitudes towards CDSS and hope to identify factors that contribute to successful CDSS implementation.


When results from the project components are published, details of the publications will be available on this website. If you would like us to notify you when results are published, please contact us.


Results of the research have been presented at the following conferences:

Dowding, D., Randell, R., Mitchell, N., Thompson, C. and Cullum, N. (2006) The effect of clinical decision support systems on nurse performance and patient outcomes: a systematic review. Society for Medical Decision Making Europe, Birmingham

Randell, R., Mitchell, N., Dowding, D., Thompson, C. and Cullum, N. (2006) Will Technology Make a Difference? Challenges of evaluating and understanding IT use in the NHS. Royal College of Nursing Annual Research Conference, York

Mitchell, N., Randell, R., Dowding, D., Thompson, C. and Cullum, N. (2006) Do Computers Support Nurse Decision Making? A Systematic Review. Royal College of Nursing Annual Research Conference, York

Natasha Mitchell will be presenting the results of the survey at Healthcare Computing, to be held in Harrogate, March 19-21 2007.

The results of all components of the project will be presented in a symposium at the Royal College of Nursing Annual Research Conference, to be held in Dundee, May 1-4 2007.

Slides from January 2006 Advisory Board meeting

Project team

Department of Health Sciences, University of York Dr Dawn Dowding
  Dr Carl Thompson
  Professor Nicky Cullum
  Dr Rebecca Randell
  Dr Natasha Mitchell
SATSU, University of York Professor Andrew Webster
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southampton Dr Valerie Lattimer
  Professor Judith Lathlean
  Dr Robert Crouch
  Dr Abigail Burgess
  Dr Becky Foster
  Ms Rebecca Owens
Department of Information Science, Loughborough University Professor Ron Summers

Contact us

If you would like further details about our project, please contact Natasha Mitchell .

Related work

There are currently a number of projects concerned with clinical decision making being carried out in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. The Health Services Research group in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Southampton has a range of projects concerned with new ways of working, including out-of-hours services that involve the use of CDSS.