The Cost and Cost-Effectiveness of Nursing Services in Health Care

Nov 2005

This article examines the literature on cost-effectiveness in nursing, and considers the relationship between this literature and decision-making in health care systems. Researchers have attempted to examine costs and benefits of nurse staffing and nursing interventions for decades. There are strong literatures for some topics, such as advanced practice nursing, clinical practices, occupational health nursing, and workplace training. However, there are gaps in the literature on the cost-effectiveness of nurse staffing patterns, the use of agency personnel, and changes in organizational structure. A review of 6 major health care management textbooks finds few references to cost-effectiveness analysis, suggesting that health care leaders have little education regarding how to conduct or evaluate economic studies. The agenda for nursing research on cost-effectiveness is daunting. Research must be based on large, representative samples; provide clear, compelling results; discuss the importance of both costs and benefits in decision-making; and be published in highly-visible journals.