Interdisciplinary staffing patterns: Do for-profit and nonprofit hospices differ?

Emily J. Cherlin, Melissa D.A. Carlson, Jeph Herrin, Dena Schulman-Green, Colleen L. Barry, Ruth McCorkle, Rosemary Johnson-Hurzeler, Elizabeth H. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Interdisciplinary care is fundamental to the hospice philosophy and is a key component of high-quality hospice care. However, little is known about how hospices differ in their interdisciplinary staffing patterns, particularly across nonprofit and for-profit hospices. The purpose of this study was to examine potential differences in the staffing patterns of for-profit and nonprofit hospices. Subjects and design: Using the 2006 Medicare Provider of Services (POS) survey, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of staffing patterns within Medicare-certified hospices operating in the United States in 2006. In bivariate and multivariable analyses, we examined differences in staffing patterns measured by the existence of a full range of interdisciplinary staff (defined as having at least 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff in each of 4 disciplines ascertained by the survey: physician, nursing, psychosocial, and home health aide) and by the professional mix of staff within each discipline. Results: For-profit hospices had a winder range of paid staff but there were no differences by ownerships when volunteer staff were included. For-profit hospices had significantly fewer registered nurse FTEs as a proportion of nursing staff, fewer medical social worker FTEs as a proportion of psychosocial staff, and fewer clinician FTEs as a proportion of total staff (p values <0.05). Compared to nonprofit hospices, for-profit and government-owned hospices also used proportionally fewer volunteer FTEs. Conclusions: Hospice staffing patterns differed significantly by ownership type. Future research should evaluate the impact of these differences on quality of care and satisfaction among patients and families using hospice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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