The Influence of Staffing Characteristics on Quality of Care in Nursing Homes

Published in: Health Services Research, v. 42, no. 5, Oct. 2007, p. 1822-1847

Posted on RAND.org on October 01, 2007

by Nicholas G. Castle, John Engberg

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OBJECTIVE: The influence staffing levels, turnover, worker stability, and agency staff had on quality of care in nursing homes was examined. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Staffing characteristics came from a survey of nursing homes (N=1,071) conducted in 2003. The staffing characteristics were collected for Nurse Aides, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Registered Nurses. Fourteen quality indicators came from the Nursing Home Compare website report card and nursing home organizational characteristics came from the Online Survey, Certification, and Recording system. STUDY DESIGN: One index of quality (the outcome) was created by combining the 14 quality indicators using exploratory factor analysis. The authors used regression analyses to assess the effect of the four staffing characteristics for each of the three types of nursing staff on this quality index in addition to individual analyses for each of the 14 quality indicators. The effect of organizational characteristics as well as the markets in which they operated on outcomes was examined. The authors examined a number of different model specifications. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Quality of care was influenced, to some degree, by all of these staffing characteristics. However, the estimated interaction effects indicated that achieving higher quality was dependent on having more than one favorable staffing characteristic--the effect of quality was larger than the sum of the independent effects of each favorable staffing characteristic. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that staff characteristics such as turnover, staffing levels, worker stability, and agency staff should be addressed simultaneously to improve the quality of nursing homes.

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