Aim To examine the characteristics of computerized decision support systems (CDSS) currently available to nurses working in the National Health Service (NHS) in England.
Method A questionnaire survey sent to a stratified random sample of 50% of all NHS care providers (Trusts) in England, asking respondents to provide information on CDSS currently used by nurses.
Results Responses were received from 108 of the 277 Trusts included in the sample. Electronic patient record systems were the most common type of CDSS reported by Trusts (n = 61) but they were least likely to have features that have been associated with improved clinical outcomes.
Conclusions The availability of CDSS with features that have been associated with improved patient outcomes for nurses in the NHS in England is limited. There is some evidence that the nature of the Trust affects whether or not nurses have access to CDSS to assist their decision making.
Implications for nursing management The implementation of CDSS is increasing throughout the NHS. Many CDSS are introduced without adequate evidence to support its introduction and there is little evaluation of the benefits once they are implemented. Policy makers and nursing management should consider whether the introduction of CDSS aids nurse decision making and benefits patient outcomes.