Enacting workplace information practices: the diverse roles of physicians in a health care team


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Information Research

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Introduction. Information practices, i.e. collectively adopted information-related activities such as needing, seeking, creating, sharing, valuing, and distributing information, are embedded in the ongoing work routines. In the practice-oriented research reported here, we have used the cultural-historical activity theory to examine information practices of physicians in patient care. Method. A qualitative, interpretative case study method was applied. Nonparticipant observations of a team of physicians and interviews with fifteen physicians were conducted over a period of four months in a university teaching hospital located in a developing country. Analysis . The data was analysed with iterative coding technique and the lens of cultural- historical activity theory. Results. Patient care appears as the central work activity in the hospital and is seen as embedded into a web of other activity systems in the hospital. It was thus found that work activity in patient care was a major influencing factor, and that it determines many of the various information related activities and practices that physicians engage in. Furthermore, it was found that social positioning of the team members influenced how information practices were enacted. Conclusions. Physicians adopt different roles to enact information in patient care. Applying cultural-historical activity theory to portray workplace information practices highlights epistemological postulations that are seldom utilized in research on African developing countries.




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  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/5186