Skip navigation

Nursing resources and patient outcomes in intensive care: a systematic review of the literature

Nursing resources and patient outcomes in intensive care: a systematic review of the literature

West, Elizabeth, Mays, Nicholas, Rafferty, Anne-Marie, Rowan, Kathy and Sanderson, Colin (2009) Nursing resources and patient outcomes in intensive care: a systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46 (7). pp. 993-1011. ISSN 0020-7489 (doi:

Full text not available from this repository.


Objectives: To evaluate the empirical evidence linking nursing resources to patient outcomes in intensive care settings as a framework for future research in this area. Background: Concerns about patient safely and the quality of care are driving research on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health care interventions, including the deployment of human resources. This is particularly important in intensive care where a large proportion of the health care budget is consumed and where nursing staff is the main item of expenditure. Recommendations about staffing levels have been trade but may not be evidence based and may not always be achieved in practice. Methods: We searched systematically for studies of the impact of nursing resources (e.g. nurse-patient ratios, nurses' level of education, training and experience) on patient Outcomes, including mortality and adverse events, in adult intensive care. Abstracts of articles were reviewed and retrieved if they investigated the relationship between nursing resources and patient Outcomes. Characteristics of the studies were tabulated and the quality of the Studies assessed. Results: Of the 15 studies included in this review, two reported it statistical relationship between nursing resources and both mortality and adverse events, one reported ail association to mortality only, seven studies reported that they Could not reject the null hypothesis of no relationship to mortality and 10 studies (out of 10 that tested the hypothesis) reported a relationship to adverse events. The main explanatory mechanisms were the lack of time for nurses to perform preventative measures, or for patient surveillance. The nurses' role in pain control was noted by One author. Studies were mainly observational and retrospective and varied in scope from 1 to 52 units. Recommendations for future research include developing the mechanisms linking nursing resources to patient Outcomes, and designing large multi-centre prospective Studies that link patient's exposure to nursing care oil a shift-by-shift basis over time. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The article is published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies: Nursing Workforce: a Special Issue (Volume 46, Issue 7, July 2009).
Uncontrolled Keywords: nursing, outcomes assessment, hospital mortality, complications, intensive care, health services research
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Health & Social Care
School of Health & Social Care > Department of Social Work & Health Development
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:04
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item