An exploratory study of clinical decision-making in five countries

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Date of Original Version



Purpose: To identify the cognitive processes nurses use in their decision-making in long- and short-term care settings in five countries, and the demographic variables associated with their decision-making. Method and Samples: The instrument used was a 56-item questionnaire that has been shown to be reliable in earlier studies. The sample consisted of five convenience samples of registered nurses working in either geriatric wards (n = 236) or acute medical-surgical wards (n = 223) in hospitals or nursing homes in Canada, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Findings: Five models of decision-making were identified on the basis of factor analysis. They represent both analytical and intuitive cognitive processes. Analytical cognitive processes were emphasized in information collection, problem definition, and planning of care, and intuitive cognitive processes were emphasized in planning, implementing, and evaluating care. Professional education, practical experience, field of practice, and type of knowledge were significantly associated with decision-making models as well as with country of residence of the participants. The highest proportion of analytically oriented decision-makers was found among nurses in long-term care, the decision-making of nurses in short-term care was more intuitively oriented. Conclusions: The results indicate that decision-making of participants varied from country to country and in different nursing situations. Future research should be focused on reasons for these differences, the relationship between the task and the nurses' type of knowledge, and how nurses use their knowledge to make decisions in different nursing situations. ©2001 Sigma Theta Tau International.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Nursing Scholarship