Personal digital assistant used by nurse practitioners: a descriptive study


Personal digital assistant use by nurse practitioners: A descriptive study

Sally D. Stroud, EdD, APRN, BC (ANP) (Associate Professor) 1 , Carol A. Smith, DSN, RN, CRNP (FNP) (Associate Professor) 2 , & Elizabeth A. Erkel, PhD, RN (Professor) 1

1 College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina

2 School of Nursing, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Correspondence to Sally D. Stroud, EdD, APRN, BC (ANP), College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina, Suite 215 99 Jonathan Lucas Street, MSC 160 Charleston, SC 29425.

Tel: 843-792-4616; Fax: 843-792-9258;


Copyright Journal compilation © 2009 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners


Advanced practice nursing * clinical decision-making tool * handheld computer * personal digital assistant


Purpose: We sought to describe the prevalence and patterns of use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) among active nurse practitioners (NPs).

Data sources: A descriptive correlational survey was conducted among NPs in the United States (N = 126). Participants were randomly selected from members of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners who had listed a practice site on their application.

Conclusions: Sixty-four percent of participants used PDAs. A drug reference was reported to be the most useful and frequently installed application. A large majority of PDA users believed that PDA use supported clinical decision making (91%), promoted patient safety (89%), and increased productivity (75%). Sixty-two percent predicted that PDA use would change their practice within the next 5 years.

Implications for practice: As innovative PDA applications with potential to improve patient outcomes become increasingly available, handheld computer skills will be a fundamental practice competency. To prevent errors in clinical decision making with quick access to PDA reference materials, NPs must critically evaluate the legitimacy and worth of PDA software programs. There is a critical need to evaluate the effectiveness of PDA use in clinical settings and develop an evidence base to guide use of the PDA in solving clinical problems.


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