Publication Details

Qiu, Y. & Yu, P. (2005). Study of characteristics of Effective Online Help Systems to Facilitate Nurses Interacting with Nursing Information Systems. In H. Grain & M. Wise (Eds.), Health Informatics Conference (pp. 26-32). Victoria: Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA).


Topic area and paper objectives: Through identifying characteristics of Online Help System (OHS) that could facilitate nurses effectively interacting with information system, this paper proposes a framework that could guide the development of OHS written for a Nursing Information System (NIS). Background and concise literature review: User training is an important mechanism to guarantee the success of information system implementation. This is particularly true for a user group such as nurses. When faced with unfamiliar tasks, a user requires assistance to get the system to work. An OHS is supposed to be helpful in such situation. However, to date it is not well understood how users interact with an OHS. Literature on OHS indicates that an OHS can be useless, even impair users’ performance, especially for novice users like nurses who do not have sufficient technical backgrounds to understand the help system. Nurses have an important role in the implementation of NIS, so it is imperative to research this area that strongly impacts on the adoption of NIS. Defining a quality framework for an effective OHS is a first step towards the actual build up of such a helpful OHS. Methods: A grounded theory approach is taken for this research. Extensive literature review of previous research on effective OHS and nurses’ socio-psychological characteristics have been undertaken to define the quality framework for OHS. Results and discussion of implications: A framework consisting with 5 dimensions is proposed. These dimensions are content, structure, functionality, aesthetics, and usability. There are specific criteria under each dimension. The framework has double value for effective OHS. Content, structure, functionality and aesthetics could serve as recommendations for designing an effective OHS for nurses considering the characteristics of nurses and the problems of OHS. The 5E (i.e. effectiveness, efficiency, engaging, easy to learn and error-tolerance) can be applied as usability evaluation tools for effective OHS.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Health Informatics Conference