• decision-making;
  • grounded theory;
  • information;
  • judgement;
  • nursing;
  • World Wide Web


Title. Judging nursing information on the WWW: a theoretical understanding.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the judgement processes nurses use when evaluating World Wide Web information related to nursing practice.

Background.  The World Wide Web has increased the global accessibility of online health information. However, the variable nature of the quality of World Wide Web information and its perceived level of reliability may lead to misinformation. This makes demands on healthcare professionals, and on nurses in particular, to ensure that health information of reliable quality is selected for use in practice.

Method.  A grounded theory approach was adopted. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used to collect data, between 2004 and 2005, from 20 nurses undertaking a postqualification graduate course at a university and 13 nurses from a local hospital in the United Kingdom.

Findings.  A theoretical framework emerged that gave insight into the judgement process nurses use when evaluating World Wide Web information. Participants broke the judgement process down into specific tasks. In addition, they used tacit, process and propositional knowledge and intuition, quasi-rational cognition and analysis to undertake these tasks. World Wide Web information cues, time available and nurses’ critical skills were influencing factors in their judgement process.

Conclusion.  Addressing the issue of quality and reliability associated with World Wide Web information is a global challenge. This theoretical framework could contribute towards meeting this challenge.