Nursing Publications

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JMIR mHealth and uHealth





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doi: 10.2196/18774


Background: There has been an increase in the technological infrastructures of many health care organizations to support the practice of health care providers. However, many nurses are using their personal digital devices, such as smartphones, while at work for personal and professional purposes. Despite the proliferation of smartphone use in the health care setting, there is limited research on the clinical use of these devices by nurses. It is unclear as to what extent and for what reasons nurses are using their personal smartphones to support their practice. Objective: This review aimed to understand the current breadth of research on nurses’ personal smartphone use in the workplace and to identify implications for research, practice, and education. Methods: A scoping review using Arksey and O’Malley’s methodological framework was conducted, and the following databases were used in the literature search: CINAHL, PubMed, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Embase, MEDLINE, Nursing and Allied Health Database, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Reviews. Search terms used were Nurs* AND (personal digital technology OR smartphone OR cellphone OR mobile phone OR cellular phone). Inclusion criteria included research focused on nurses’ use of their own digital technologies, reported in English, and published between January 2010 and January 2020. Exclusion criteria were if the device or app was implemented for research purposes, if it was provided by the organization, if it focused on infection control, and if it was focused on nursing students or nursing education. Results: A total of 22 out of 2606 articles met the inclusion criteria. Two main themes from the thematic analyses included personal smartphone use for patient care and implications of personal smartphone use. Nurses used their smartphones to locate information about medications, procedures, diagnoses, and laboratory tests. Downloaded apps were used by nurses to locate patient care–related information. Nurses reported improved communication among health team members and used their personal devices to communicate patient information via text messaging, calling, and picture and video functions. Nurses expressed insight into personal smartphone use and challenges related to distraction, information privacy, organizational policies, and patient perception. Conclusions: Nurses view personal smartphones as an efficient method to gather patient care information and to communicate with the health care team. This review highlights knowledge gaps regarding nurses’ personal device use and information safety, patient care outcomes, and communication practices. This scoping review facilitates critical reflection on patient care practices within the digital context. We infer that nurses’ use of their personal devices to communicate among the health care team may demonstrate a technological “work-around” meant to reconcile health system demands for cost-efficiency with efforts to provide quality patient care. The current breadth of research is focused on acute care, with little research focus in other practices settings. Research initiatives are needed to explore personal device use across the continuum of health care settings.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Citation of this paper:

de Jong A, Donelle L, Kerr M Nurses’ Use of Personal Smartphone Technology in the Workplace: Scoping Review JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2020;8(11):e18774 URL: DOI: 10.2196/18774

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