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Home care nurses' experiences with using electronic messaging in their communication with general practitioners



Aims and objectives

To investigate the experiences of home care nurses with electronic messaging (e-messaging) and to determine how it influenced their communication with general practitioners.


Nurses in home care services must collaborate with general practitioners to care for homebound patients. Studies have shown that communication and collaboration are often constrained because they are organised separately and are dispersed. The use of information and communication technology is expected to support communication and to be a tool for increased patient safety and higher-quality care.


Cross-sectional study with group comparisons


The data were collected with a mailed questionnaire that was answered by home care nurses (n = 425) who had implemented e-messaging and by home care nurses in a comparison group who had not implemented e-messaging (n = 364). The data were analysed using descriptive analyses, chi-square test, Mann–Whitney U-test and multilevel analysis.


The home care nurses who used e-messages reported to a greater extent that they had communication procedures with general practitioners compared to what the home care nurses in the comparison group reported. The implementation of e-messaging did not result in timelier communication or differences between the two groups in the use of nonelectronic communication, except for a lower use of faxes in the e-messaging group. However, the home care nurses who used e-messaging reported more frequent contacts with general practitioners.


The results demonstrate that even if e-messaging was implemented, the home care nurses and the general practitioners continued to use nonelectronic communication methods.

Relevance to clinical practice

E-messaging did not replace but rather complemented the communication methods and thereby transformed clinical communication and collaboration. This should be considered when planning and implementing new information technology in primary care.