Using computerized clinical nursing data bases for nursing research

Lillian M. Nail, Linda L. Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Computerized clinical nursing data bases (CCNDBs) have significant potential as sources of data for research on the processes and outcomes of nursing care. The emergence of nurse-managed practice sites, in which patient care is driven predominately by nurses' decisions, has prompted renewed interest in using data from these practices to answer questions that are important to nurses. The purpose of this article is to articulate strategies for using CCNDBs for nursing research. Recognition of the differences between clinical and research data bases is essential. The steps involved in obtaining and using computerized clinical data can be grouped into three phases: (1) locating and accessing CCNDBs, (2) assessing the content and quality of the data, and (3) extracting and analyzing the data. Processes involved in phase 1 include determining the research question, identifying eligible CCNDBs, negotiating access to the CCNDB, and ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of subjects. In phase 2 the processes include determining the content of the candidate CCNDBs, assessing the quality of the data in candidate CCNDBs, and determining the technical usability of data in candidate CCNDBs. Phase 3 involves mapping CCNDB data elements to research variables; determining data and record selection criteria; writing and implementing a query to select the desired records; designing a data base and record structure for research variables; performing analytic procedures on the research data; and reporting results of the research. Phases and procedures are discussed in detail in the article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Computerized patient records
  • Data bases, utilization
  • Medical records
  • Privacy and confi-dentiality
  • Research, nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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