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Nursing Testimony Before Congress, 1993-2011

Author(s): 

Sally Cohen, Ulrike Muench

Date: 
Aug. 01, 2012

This article describes nurses' testimony before congressional committees between 1993 and 2011. We address three questions: (a) How have trends in nurses' testimony changed over time? (b) What do data reveal about nursing's engagement with health policy issues on the congressional agenda? (c) How might the findings be useful in implementation of health care reform and the Institute of Medicine report on the Future of Nursing. Using LexisNexis® Congressional online database, we identified 434 nursing testimonies presented at congressional hearings. Descriptive statistics were used to examine characteristics of the nurse expert witnesses and the testimonies topics on which they testified. Nurses most frequently testified on workforce issues (36%), followed by access and coverage (14%). The majority of the nurse witnesses had graduate degrees 65% and lived and worked in fewer than 10 states. Nurses appeared before House or Senate appropriations committees 38% more often than before any other congressional committees. Our findings point to the need for additional research, especially given the crescendo of calls for nursing to step up to the political table. The article concludes with implications for future research and policy action.

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