Actual Decision Making: Factors that Determine Practices in Clinical Settings

Dayle Hunt Joseph, Jeannette Matrone, Elaine Osborne

Abstract


Decision making is an integral part of nursing practice. In this era of expanded practice, nurses are expected to participate actively in decision making with regard to the care of clients. Decision-making skills are an inherent part of nursing curriculums throughout the United States. Students are now expected to demonstrate these skills on state board examinations.
Findings of several researchers have given credence to the notion that nurses do use some form of decision analysis when choosing particular options for patient care (Baumann & Bourbonnais, 1982; Benner, 1984; Corcoran, 1986; Grier, 1976; Thompson & Sutton, 1985). Little information is given, however, about the types of decisions nurses do make and the activities surrounding those decisions. In conversations with nurses, they frequently discuss, in a cavalier fashion, the kinds of decisions they make throughout the course of a day. In this particular study, an attempt was made to investigate those every day decisions empirically, so that a better understanding of the scope of decision making in nursing practice can be realized.

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