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Guidelines for Evaluating Tools for Clinical Decision Making

Dickerson, Suzanne Steffan DNS, RN; Sackett, Kay EdD, RN; Jones, Janice M. PhD, RN; Brewer, Carol PhD, RN

Original Article

Managed care is designed to reduce healthcare costs by controlling use of services and by improving quality outcomes. Preparation of nurses to practice in a health management environment mandates clear understanding of this new environment. Nursing educators should focus on the spectrum of health services and enhance the nurses’ ability to assess patients independently, implement health plans, and be responsible for outcomes. Nurses must understand how clinical decision-making tools facilitate planning care to maximize use of resources. The authors describe the construction and evaluation of a learning strategy that involves the use of guidelines to evaluate clinical decision-making tools. Two examples are presented: evaluating clinical pathways in a case management project and evaluating algorithm (practice guideline) outcome data from a prenatal population case study from a local health maintenance organization.

Author affiliation: School of Nursing, University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Address correspondence to: Suzanne Steffan Dickerson, DNS, RN, School of Nursing, 31 Windridge Ct, Williamsville, NY 14221 (e-mail:

Reprints not available from the author.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.