Article| Volume 53, ISSUE 6, P300-304, November 2005

Quality of care in nursing home organizations: Establishing a health services research agenda

      Health services research has led to exciting new findings about the critical importance of the amount and type of nursing staff in nursing homes for improving the processes and outcomes of care. This paper reviews recent theoretical and research issues and outlines areas where research is needed. The nursing home research agenda for the future needs to concentrate on: (1) the relationship between structural measures of nursing (eg, staffing levels, education, turnover rates) and the outcomes and processes of care; (2) adequate processes of care and ways to improve the reliability of clinical outcome measures; (3) better ways to risk-adjust for resident characteristics; (4) the impact of nursing home characteristics (eg, ownership) and public policies (eg, reimbursement) on structural factors, processes, and outcomes; and (5) cost-effectiveness studies of nursing care at the organizational or system level.
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      Charlene Harrington is a Professor of Sociology and Nursing, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.