University of Oulu

Laukka E, Pölkki T, Heponiemi T, Kaihlanen A, Kanste O, Leadership in Digital Health Services: Protocol for a Concept Analysis, JMIR Res Protoc 2021;10(2):e25495, URL:, DOI: 10.2196/25495

Leadership in digital health services : protocol for a concept analysis

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Author: Laukka, Elina1,2; Pölkki, Tarja1,3; Heponiemi, Tarja2;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Health and Social Service System Research, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
3Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-02-09


Background: Due to the rapid digitalization of health care, leadership is becoming more complex. Leadership in digital health services is a term that has been used in the literature with various meanings. Conceptualization of leadership in digital health services is needed to deliver higher quality digital health services, update existing leadership practices, and advance research.

Objective: The aim of this study is to outline a concept analysis that aims to clarify and define the concept of leadership in digital health services.

Methods: The concept analysis will be performed using the Walker and Avant model, which involves eight steps: concept selection, determination of aims, identification of uses, determination of defining attributes, construction of a model case, construction of additional cases, identification of antecedents and consequences, and definition of empirical referents. A scoping literature search will be performed following the search protocol for scoping reviews by the Joanna Briggs Institute to identify all relevant literature on leadership in digital health services. Searches will be conducted in 6 scientific databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, Scopus, ProQuest, Web of Science, and the Finnish database Medic), and unpublished studies and gray literature will be searched using Google Scholar, EBSCO Open Dissertations, and MedNar.

Results: An initial limited search of MEDLINE was undertaken on October 19, 2020, resulting in 883 records. The results of the concept analysis will be submitted for publication by July 2021.

Conclusions: A robust conceptualization of leadership in digital health services is needed to support research, leadership, and education. The concept analysis model of Walker and Avant will be used to meet this need. As leadership in digital health services appears to be an interprofessional and intersectoral collaboration, defining this concept may also facilitate collaboration between professionals and sectors. The concept analysis to be conducted will also expand our understanding of leadership in digital health services.

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Series: JMIR research protocols
ISSN: 1929-0748
ISSN-E: 1929-0748
ISSN-L: 1929-0748
Volume: 10
Issue: 2
Article number: e25495
DOI: 10.2196/25495
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3141 Health care science
Funding: This work was supported by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland under Grant 327145.
Copyright information: © Elina Laukka, Tarja Pölkki, Tarja Heponiemi, Anu-Marja Kaihlanen, Outi Kanste. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 04.02.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.