Purpose: To determine if using personal digital assistants (PDAs) increased accuracy and efficiency of clinical decisions made by novice nurse practitioners (NPs).
Design: Experimental with a repeated measures design.
Methods: The study sample included 40 novice NPs. Data were collected from December 2003 to March 2004 following a stratified random assignment of the subjects to a textbook or PDA group. Participants identified appropriate laboratory value assessments, diagnosis, and medication decisions using the assigned resources when given two randomly administered clinical scenarios. Accuracy was determined by the correct response score to each clinical question. The completion of the scenario was timed by the investigator. Length of time necessary to answer each part of the scenario determined efficiency. Data analysis included mixed design repeated measures analysis of variance.
Findings: There was a significant interaction and difference in accuracy in the laboratory analysis section of the case scenarios (F(1,38) = 21.256, p≤ .001) in the PDA group when compared with the textbook group. There were no differences in accuracy by section. In three of six efficiency variables measured, the PDA users were significantly more efficient.
Conclusions: In both laboratory values and one of the treatment sections, the PDA users were more efficient in determining an answer to the clinical questions. Accuracy of PDA users was equal to textbook users.
Clinical Relevance: The findings lend support to benefits for novice practitioners using PDAs when evaluating clinical situations, both in accessing certain correct information and doing this in a timely manner.