• To understand the research potential of electronic health records (EHRs) as an existing data set of nursing interventions
• To critically examine some of the limitations of collecting administrative data from EHR systems in research
• To explore these issues through a study of the role of the school nurse in safeguarding children
Background Electronic health records (EHRs) provide an interesting potential data set for nursing research. However, they can present challenges when collecting data, as EHR systems are not designed with research in mind.
Aim To present an example of collecting data using EHRs that was conducted as part of a study of the role of the school nurse in safeguarding children.
Discussion Data were successfully obtained from EHR systems to understand school nursing caseloads and interventions with vulnerable children and young people. Major limitations included variances in EHR systems, such as different nomenclature for interventions. These limitations were addressed by reviewing organisational guidance on record-keeping and through a working knowledge of the different EHR systems.
Conclusion Conducting research using EHRs has provided important learning about the potential of this type of data and the promise they hold for future research.
Implications for practice Organisations willing for existing data to be used in research might consider embedding pathways for collecting data that are easy for potential researchers to navigate. EHR systems need to be sensitive to research, but not at the expense of efficiency in clinical practice.
Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1695Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated softwareCorrespondence
Harding L, Bekaert S, Appleton JV (2020) Exploring the challenges of using electronic health record systems in nursing research. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1695
Published online: 09 April 2020
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