Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Test results management and distributed cognition in electronic health record-enabled primary care.

Smith MW, Hughes AM, Brown C, Russo E, Giardina TD, Mehta P, Singh H. Test results management and distributed cognition in electronic health record-enabled primary care. Health Informatics Journal. 2019 Dec 1; 25(4):1549-1562.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


Managing abnormal test results in primary care involves coordination across various settings. This study identifies how primary care teams manage test results in a large, computerized healthcare system in order to inform health information technology requirements for test results management and other distributed healthcare services. At five US Veterans Health Administration facilities, we interviewed 37 primary care team members, including 16 primary care providers, 12 registered nurses, and 9 licensed practical nurses. We performed content analysis using a distributed cognition approach, identifying patterns of information transmission across people and artifacts (e.g. electronic health records). Results illustrate challenges (e.g. information overload) as well as strategies used to overcome challenges. Various communication paths were used. Some team members served as intermediaries, processing information before relaying it. Artifacts were used as memory aids. Health information technology should address the risks of distributed work by supporting awareness of team and task status for reliable management of results.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.