Registered Nurse Staffing and Patient and Nurse Outcomes in Hospitals: A Commentary

Sean P. Clarke, Linda H. Aiken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors’ research group published a major article in October 2002 showing a strong effect of nurse staffing on both patient outcomes and factors related to nurse turnover in 168 Pennsylvania hospitals. This article reviews major design elements and findings of the study and discusses policy implications of this research. Even though evidence is mounting that hospital staffing is a public health issue, regulation of staffing levels remains controversial. Higher quality staffing data that incorporate information about patients’ needs for nursing care are required for better administrative decision-making and research purposes. That the current nurse shortage is occurring in an era of renewed concerns about safety in hospitals offers unique opportunities for developing public policy to remedy problems with staffing and other long-standing workplace environment issues in hospital nursing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy, Politics, & Nursing Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • hospital
  • hospital mortality
  • nursing staff
  • personnel staffing and scheduling
  • public policy
  • quality of nursing care in hospitals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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