Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2010


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Carolyn Nickerson

Committee Member

Gladys Husted

Committee Member

Lenore Resick

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyonga


Baccalaureate nursing students, Clinical decision-making, Evidence-based practice, Hand-held computer technology, Nursing education, Personal digital assistants


During the last decade, the advent of the personal digital assistant (PDA) and the development of clinical software specific to nursing practice have changed the way that many nurses manage information and workload. More recently, PDAs have become a standard tool in undergraduate nursing education. Though there is substantial discussion in the literature on PDA technology, the emphasis there has been descriptive and anecdotal. Since 2002, nurse authors have reported that PDA use has reduced medication errors and streamlined data gathering. This has lead to speculation that use of the PDA is a clinical tool that supports evidence-based practice and the complex thinking necessary for sound clinical decision-making. Such speculation has been one factor in the rapid adoption of the PDA by many baccalaureate programs. However, there is a paucity of research supporting this conjecture. In fact, the PDA has been accepted as a tool that supports evidence-based practice and clinical decision-making in the absence of validation. The anecdotal data reported are insufficient to support the extension of this device in both nursing practice and education. Hence, the objective of this study was to provide some quantitative validation for the future application of this promising clinical and educational tool.

A descriptive, correlational design was used to compare the performance of upper-class nursing students who have used PDAs and upper-class nursing students who have not used PDAs on measures of clinical decision-making (Clinical Decision-Making in Nursing Scale [CDMNS]) and evidence-based practice (Evidence-Based Practice Questionnaire [EBPQ]). Data were analyzed using the independent t-test, Spearman's rho correlation, and multiple regressions. There were no significant differences between PDA users and non-users on measures of clinical decision-making. However, there was a significant difference in use of evidence-based practice (p < 0.05) for those who occasionally used the PDA as opposed to those who never used the device. Furthermore, several demographic variables influenced the scores of both the CDMNS and the EBPQ.