The use of mobile computing (MC) in healthcare practice has grown substantially in recent years, yet little is known about its impact. This descriptive, exploratory, qualitative study explored the perceptions of public health nurses (PHNs) in a school health program about their use of MC. Public health nurses participated in focus group interviews and completed weekly reflections. They perceived that MC (a) increased PHNs' flexibility although they were constrained by work rules, (b) increased peer and employer connectedness yet increased isolation, (c) and increased PHNs' status while creating a wider gap between PHNs and their clients. Public health nurses described their practice as being more efficient and client-focused with MC. Over time, PHNs grew more comfortable with the tool, developed a dependence on it, and learned to deal with technological problems. Although this new technology shows promise, there is a need for further research to examine its impact as a tool to promote public health nursing practice.
School of Nursing (Drs Valaitis and O'Mara) and the Faculty of Health Sciences (Dr Valaitis), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Dr Ruta K. Valaitis is also a Clinical Consultant with the Public Health Research, Education and Development Program (PHRED) at the City of Hamilton, Public Health and Community Services Department. Dr Linda M. O'Mara is a researcher with the Systems Linked Research Unit (SLRU), and a Clinical Associate with the City of Hamilton, Public Health and Community Services Department.
Corresponding author: Ruta K. Valaitis, PhD, RN, Room 3N28E, Health Sciences Centre, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3Z5 (e-mail: Valaitis@mcmaster.ca).
This study was completed at the City of Hamilton, Public Health and Community Services Department in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the PHRED program for this study. We also acknowledge the public health nurses who openly shared their experiences with us.