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Relational use of an electronic quality of life and practice support system in hospital palliative consult care: A pilot study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2018

Marian Krawczyk
School of Nursing, Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C., Canada & Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada
Richard Sawatzky*
School of Nursing, Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C., Canada & Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada
Author for correspondence: Richard Sawatzky, School of Nursing, Trinity Western University, Langley, B.C., Canada & Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada. E-mail:



This study is part of an overarching research initiative on the development and integration of an electronic Quality of Life and Practice Support System (QPSS) that uses patient-reported outcome and experience measures in clinical practice. The current study focused on palliative nurse consultants trialing the QPSS with older hospitalized adults receiving acute care. The primary aim of the study was to better understand consultants’ and patients’ experiences and perspectives of use.


The project involved two nurse specialists within a larger palliative outreach consult team (POCT) and consenting older adult patients (age 55+) in a large tertiary acute care hospital in western Canada. User-centered design of the QPSS was informed by three focus groups with the entire POCT team, and implementation was evaluated by direct observation as well as interviews with the POCT nurses and three patients. Thematic analysis of interviews and field notes was informed by theoretical perspectives from social sciences.


Over 9 weeks, the POCT nurses used the QPSS at least once with 20 patients, for a total of 47 administrations. The nurses most often assisted patients in using the QPSS. Participants referenced three primary benefits of relational use: enhanced communication, strengthened therapeutic relations, and cocreation of new insights about quality of life and care experiences. The nurses also reported increased visibility of quality of life concerns and positive development as relational care providers.

Significance of results

Participants expressed that QPSS use positively influenced relations of care and enhanced practices consistent with person-centered care. Results also indicate that electronic assessment systems may, in some instances, function as actor-objects enabling new knowledge and relations of care rather than merely as a neutral technological platform. This is the first study to examine hospital palliative consult clinicians’ use of a tablet-based system for routine collection of patient-reported outcome and experience measures.

Original Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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