Nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation in acute care settings: A systematic review

Yingyan Chen, Elicia Kunst, Dima Nasrawi, Debbie Massey, Amy N.B. Johnston, Kathryn Keller, Frances Fengzhi Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aims: Identify and synthesize evidence of nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation in acute care settings. 

Design: Systematic mixed studies review. 

Data sources: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline, Scopus and Cochrane were searched in April 2021. 

Review methods: Data were selected using the updated Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‑Analysis framework. A data-based convergent synthesis design using qualitative content analysis was adopted. Quality appraisal was undertaken using validated tools appropriate to study designs of the included papers. 

Results: Forty-three papers were included in this review. Skills and attitudes were not commonly assessed, as most studies referred to ‘competency’ in the context of nurses’ knowledge in electrocardiogram interpretation. Nurses’ knowledge levels in this important nursing role varied notably, which could be partly due to a range of assessment tools being used. Several factors were found to influence nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation across the included studies from individual, professional and organizational perspectives. 

Conclusion: The definition of ‘competency’ was inconsistent, and nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation varied from low to high. Nurses identified a lack of regular training and insufficient exposure in electrocardiogram interpretation. Hence, regular, standard training and education are recommended. Also, more research is needed to develop a standardized and comprehensive electrocardiogram interpretation tool, thereby allowing educators to safely assess nurses’ competency. 

Impact: This review addressed questions related to nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation. The findings highlight varying competency levels and assessment methods. Nurses reported a lack of knowledge and confidence in interpreting electrocardiograms. There is an urgent need to explore opportunities to promote and maintain nurses’ competency in electrocardiogram interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1266
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Volume78
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • acute care
  • competency
  • electrocardiogram interpretation
  • literature review
  • nursing
  • systematic mixed studies review

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