The meaning of technology in an intensive care unit--an interview study

Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2007 Aug;23(4):187-95. doi: 10.1016/j.iccn.2007.03.003. Epub 2007 Apr 30.


Background: Previous research has suggested technology may dehumanise patient care and also that technology may restrict nurses' freedom of action. This raises questions about the relationship between technology, care and medicine in units where the patient's need for treatment is often an emergency.

Aim: The aim of the study was to explore how staff members in an intensive care unit (ICU) make sense of technology in their everyday practice.

Method: Twelve staff members from one ICU were interviewed about their understanding of technology in their everyday practice.

Result: Three main findings emerged from the analysis: Technology seems to be considered decisive as it directs and controls medical treatment and results in the patients' well being; technology is seen as facilitating everyday practice because it makes treatment more secure and decreases workload; however technology can complicate the staff members' everyday practice as it is not completely trustworthy, is not easy to handle and can cause ethical dilemmas.

Conclusion: Contrary to previous findings this study shows that technology seems to be embedded in care and medical treatment. Furthermore, the meaning of technology appears to be dependent on the different staff members' accounting practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Anesthesiology / education
  • Anesthesiology / ethics
  • Anesthesiology / organization & administration
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Biomedical Technology / education
  • Biomedical Technology / ethics
  • Biomedical Technology / organization & administration*
  • Communication
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Critical Care / ethics
  • Critical Care / organization & administration*
  • Ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / ethics
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / education
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / ethics
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / ethics
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Nursing, Practical / education
  • Nursing, Practical / ethics
  • Nursing, Practical / organization & administration
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Workload