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Background: In the UK the health service is investing more than ever before in information technology (IT) and primary care nurses will have to work with computers. Information about patients will be almost exclusively held in electronic patient records; and much of the information about best practice is most readily accessible via computer terminals. Objective: To examine the influence of age and nursing profession on the level of computer use. Methods: A questionnaire was developed to examine: access, training received, confidence and use of IT. The survey was carried out in a Sussex Primary Care Trust, in the UK. Results: The questionnaire was sent to 109 nurses with a 64% response rate. Most primary care nurses (89%) use their computer regularly at work: 100% of practice nurses daily, compared with 60% of district nurses and 59% of health visitors (p < 0.01). Access to IT was not significantly different between different age groups; but 91% of practice nurses had their own computer while many district nurses and health visitors had to share (p < 0.01). Nurses over 50 had received more training that their younger colleagues (p < 0.01); yet despite this, they lacked confidence and used computers less (p < 0.001). 96% of practice nurses were confident at in using computerised medical records, compared with 53% of district nurses and 44% of health visitors (p < 0.01.) One-to-one training and workshops were the preferred formats for training, with Internet based learning and printed manuals the least popular (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Using computers in the surgery has become the norm for primary care nurses. However, nurses over 50, working out in the community, lack the confidence and skill of their younger and practice based colleagues. © 2004 Chan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Nursing

Publication Date