Dilemmas at a primary health care center: a baseline study for computer-supported cooperative health care work

Methods Inf Med. 1992 Sep;31(3):204-9.


For the development of computer-supported cooperative health care work this study investigated, based upon activity theory, daily dilemmas encountered by the members of interprofessional primary health care work groups. The entire staff at four Swedish primary health care centers were surveyed, 199 personal interviews being conducted by the Critical Incident Technique. Medical dilemmas were mainly reported by general practitioners and nurses, organizational dilemmas by laboratory staff, nurses' aides, and secretaries, and dilemmas in the patient-provider relation by nurses, nurses' aides, and secretaries. Organizational and communication dilemmas reported by nurses, nurses' aides, and secretaries often had their cause outside the control of the individual professional. These dilemmas were often "caused" by other group members (general practitioners or nurses), e.g., by not keeping appointment times or by not sharing information with patients. The implication for computer-supported cooperative health care work is that computer support should be planned on two levels. Collective work activity as a whole should benefit from individual clinical decision support for general practitioners and nurses. However, since most patient communication and organizational problems occurred at group level, group process support is required in these areas.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Information Systems*
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel
  • Nurses
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Physicians
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Sweden