Comparing the information seeking strategies of residents, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in critical care settings.

Thomas G. Kannampallil*, Laura K. Jones, Vimla L. Patel, Timothy G. Buchman, Amy Franklin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Critical care environments are information-intensive environments where effective decisions are predicated on successfully finding and using the 'right information at the right time'. We characterize the differences in processes and strategies of information seeking between residents, nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs). We conducted an exploratory study in the cardiothoracic intensive care units of two large academic hospitals within the same healthcare system. Clinicians (residents (n=5), NPs (n=5), and PAs (n=5)) were shadowed as they gathered information on patients in preparation for clinical rounds. Information seeking activities on 96 patients were collected over a period of 3 months (NRes=37, NNP=24, NPA=35 patients). The sources of information and time spent gathering the information at each source were recorded. Exploratory data analysis using probabilistic sequential approaches was used to analyze the data. Residents predominantly used a patient-based information seeking strategy in which all relevant information was aggregated for one patient at a time. In contrast, NPs and PAs primarily utilized a source-based information seeking strategy in which similar (or equivalent) information was aggregated for multiple patients at a time (eg, X-rays for all patients). The differences in the information seeking strategies are potentially a result of the differences in clinical training, strategies of managing cognitive load, and the nature of the use of available health IT tools. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of these differences on clinical and process outcomes. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e249-256
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue numbere2
StatePublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing the information seeking strategies of residents, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in critical care settings.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this