• nursing;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • attitudes;
  • computer literacy;
  • cross sectional study;
  • computer use questionnaire

Background.  The introduction of a new information retrieval system for the use of health service staff at a large tertiary referral hospital provided an excellent opportunity for nurses to make greater use of evidence to inform their practice. However, the extent to which nurses were able to access the resource was unknown.

Aim.  The aim of the study was to obtain this information and to test nurses' knowledge of computers and their attitudes to using them in their practice.

Methods.  During October 2001 a computer use questionnaire was attached to the pay advice slips of all nursing staff at the Royal Brisbane and Royal Women's Hospital ( n  = 1708). Staff were asked to return their completed questionnaire in a preaddressed return envelope. To encourage this, a prize (a Gold Class cinema pass for two) was offered.

Results.  Of the 1708 questionnaires distributed, 590 were returned, giving a 34·5% response rate. Computer use was influenced by education, nursing seniority, age, and length of time in the service and, to a lesser extent, gender.

Conclusions.  Information from the study has assisted planners and educators to identify clusters of nurses to target for interventions in this area. Results will also be used to assess the success of any interventions.