Nurses' practice takes place in a context of ongoing advances in research and technology. The dynamic and uncertain nature of health care environment requires nurses to be competent decision-makers in order to respond to clients' needs. Recently, the public and the government have criticized Iranian nurses because of poor quality of patient care. However nurses' views and experiences on factors that affect their clinical function and clinical decision-making have rarely been studied.
Grounded theory methodology was used to analyze the participants' lived experiences and their viewpoints regarding the factors affecting their clinical function and clinical decision-making. Semi-structured interviews and participant observation methods were used to gather the data. Thirty-eight participants were interviewed and twelve sessions of observation were carried out. Constant comparative analysis method was used to analyze the data.
Five main themes emerged from the data. From the participants' points of view, "feeling competent", "being self-confident", "organizational structure", "nursing education", and "being supported" were considered as important factors in effective clinical decision-making.
As participants in this research implied, being competent and self-confident are the most important personal factors influencing nurses clinical decision-making. Also external factors such as organizational structure, access to supportive resources and nursing education have strengthening or inhibiting effects on the nurses' decisions. Individual nurses, professional associations, schools of nursing, nurse educators, organizations that employ nurses and government all have responsibility for developing and finding strategies that facilitate nurses' effective clinical decision-making. They are responsible for identifying barriers and enhancing factors within the organizational structure that facilitate nurses' clinical decision-making.