Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Mary-Anne Andrusyszyn; Carroll Iwasiw


How nurses conceptualize and learn about health technology used in practice was examined in this qualitative, interpretive-descriptive study. Traditionally, conceptualizations of technology used in the nursing profession have been viewed from either socially- or technically- centric perspectives that have clouded the real nature of nurse-technology interactions. For instance, current perspectives examining nurses’ use of technology typically ignore or minimize socio-technical considerations impacting technology acceptance and adoption by nurses. A research approach that embraced the mingling of social and material (sociomaterial) actors was used to address the following research questions: (a) How do nurses conceptualize health technology used in practice?, and, (b) How do nurses learn about health technology used in practice? The theoretical lens of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) provided the overall perspective and guided elements of data collection and analysis. ANT is aligned to a relational ontology, whereby both human and non-human participants (or actors) are viewed in symmetry (or as equals) during data analysis. Privilege during the analysis was, therefore, not automatically prescribed to either the human or non-human actors. Interviews, documents, and direct observation of nurses constituted the majority of the data collected for this study. Using an iterative data analysis process, themes were generated related to nurses’ conceptualization of and learning about technology used in practice. Technology was conceptualized by nurses to possess variation in naming, roles, and also engendered notions of action or praxis. Learning technology by nurses possessed elements resembling both processes and products. From these learning processes and products, salient strategies (e.g., indispensability, semblance, habituation) were developed by nurses in order to negotiate and use various health technologies for practice. Ultimately, learning of health technology by nurses appeared to actively influence, modify, and shape the role of health technology, and its subsequent use by human actors. Therefore, how nurses learn about technology should be considered during the planning, development, and evaluation of future technologies. End-users, like nurses, will rarely use a health technology to its fullest capability unless learning is congruent with the environmental context surrounding the technological actor. In light of these findings, recommendations for nursing education and professional practice related to the role and interpretation of health technology used by nurses in 2013 is also discussed, along with implications for future research.

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