Role and experience determine decision support interface design in neonatal intensive care environments

G. Ewing, Y. Freer, R. Logie, James Ritchie Wallace Hunter, N. McIntosh, S. Rudkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to describe a novel approach to the analysis of data obtained from card-sorting experiments. These experiments were performed as a part of the initial phase of a project, called NEONATE. One of the aims of the project is to develop decision support tools for the neonatal intensive care environment. Physical card-sorts were performed using clinical "action" and patient "descriptor" words. Thirty-two staff (eight junior nurses, eight senior nurses, eight junior doctors, and eight senior doctors) participated in the actions card-sorts and the same number of staff participated in separate descriptors card-sorting experiments. To check for consistency, the card-sorts were-replicated for nurses during the action card-sorts. The card-sort data were analysed using hierarchical cluster analysis to produce tree-diagrams or dendrograms. Differences were shown in the way various classes of staff with different levels of experience mentally map clinical concepts. Clinical actions were grouped more loosely by nurses and by those with less experience, with a polarisation between senior doctors and junior nurses. Descriptors were classed more definitively and similarly by nurses and senior doctors but in a less structured way and quite differently by junior doctors. This paper presents a summary of the differences in the card-sort data for the various staff categories. It is shown that concepts are used differently by various staff groups-in a neonatal unit and that this may diminish the effectiveness of computerised decision aids unless it is explored during their development. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-249
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • card-sorts
  • concept-sorts
  • cluster analysis
  • user-interface
  • neonatal intensive care
  • clinical terminology
  • clinical roles


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