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Open Access Research article

National survey focusing on the crucial information needs of intensive care charge nurses and intensivists: same goal, different demands

Heljä Lundgrén-Laine12*, Elina Kontio13, Tommi Kauko4, Heikki Korvenranta2, Jari Forsström5 and Sanna Salanterä12

  • * Corresponding author: Heljä Lundgrén-Laine hklula@utu.fi

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

2 Bureau of Administration, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

3 Faculty of Telecommunication and e-Business, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland

4 Department of Biostatistics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

5 The Finnish Medical Association, Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:15  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-15

Published: 29 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Although information technology adequately supports clinical care in many intensive care units (ICUs), it provides much poorer support for the managerial information needed to coordinate multi-professional care. To gain a general view of the most crucial multi-professional information needs of ICU shift leaders a national survey was conducted, focusing on the information needs of charge nurses and intensivists.

Methods

Based on our previous observation study an online survey was developed, containing 122 information need statements related to the decision-making of ICU shift leaders. Information need statements were divided into six dimensions: patient admission, organisation and management of work, allocation of staff and material resources, special treatments, and patient discharge. This survey involved all ICU shift leaders (n = 738) who worked in any of the 17 highest level ICUs for adults in university hospitals in Finland during the autumn of 2009. Both charge nurses’ and intensivists’ crucial information needs for care coordination were evaluated.

Results

Two hundred and fifty-seven (50%) charge nurses and 96 (43%) intensivists responded to the survey. The consistency of the survey was found to be good (Cronbach’s α scores between .87–.97, with a total explanatory power of 64.53%). Altogether, 57 crucial information needs for care coordination were found; 22 of which were shared between shift leaders. The most crucial of these information needs were related to organisation and management, patient admission, and allocation of staff resources. The associations between working experience, or shift leader acting frequencies, and crucial information needs were not statistically significant. However, a statistically significant difference was found between the number of ICU beds and the ICU experience of charge nurses with information needs, under the dimension of organisation and management of work. The information needs of charge nurses and intensivists differed. Charge nurses’ information needs related to care coordination, were more varied, and concerned issues at a unit level, whereas intensivists focused on direct patient care.

Conclusions

The reliability and validity of our survey was found to be good. Our study findings show that care coordination at an ICU is a collaborative process among ICU shift leaders with multiprofessional information needs related to organisation and management, patient admission, and allocation of staff resources. Study findings can be used to identify the most crucial information needs of ICU shift leaders when new information technology is developed to support managerial decision-making during care coordination.