Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces $214,000 Grant to Investigate How Public Reporting Laws Affect Nurse Staffing, Patient Safety

    • November 5, 2013

Princeton, N.J. – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a new grant award, from its Future of Nursing National Research Agenda, of $214,000 for a study that will examine whether public reporting laws are effective in encouraging hospitals to improve nurse staffing levels and improving patient outcomes. The study team is led by Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

The researchers will examine the impact of nurse staffing public reporting laws on staffing levels and patient outcomes in four states: Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. They will look at the scope of nurse staffing public reporting laws, the process and context that supported their passage and implementation, the effects of the laws on registered nurse staffing levels, and the effects of the laws on patient mortality, readmissions, and failure-to-rescue.

RWJF created the Future of Nursing National Research Agenda in 2011 to support research that would inform implementation of the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) groundbreaking report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The project is coordinated by RWJF’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI). INQRI also supports interdisciplinary teams of nurse scholars and scholars from other disciplines to address the gaps in knowledge about the relationship between nursing and health care quality.

“The studies funded through the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative are establishing the links between nursing care and patient outcomes, and this new round of research takes that work one step further,” said Mary Naylor, PhD, FAAN, RN, Marian S. Ware Professor in Gerontology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and co-director of the INQRI program. “The National Research Agenda supports studies that will provide the evidence base for policies that will advance nursing, improve health care, and increase access to care.”

Earlier this year, RWJF announced a grant to another research team from the University of Pennsylvania, to examine the impact of removing practice barriers to allow APRNs to practice independently. This new grant brings the total number of projects funded through the initiative to eight.

The other six studies address:

  • the impact of state regulations and other barriers on advanced practice registered nurses’ (APRNs) practice, particularly in rural and other underserved areas;
  • the structural, practice, and policy opportunities and barriers that affect psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners’ ability to most effectively use their skills and expertise in public mental health settings;
  • the impact of emerging models of primary care on future primary care workforce needs;
  • the effect of state regulations on APRN and physician teamwork, collaboration, and patient outcomes;
  • the impact of loosening state restrictions on scope of practice for nurse practitioners on cost, quality, access to care, and the size of the nurse practitioner workforce; and
  • the return on investment for nurse residency programs, and the entities to which returns accrue.

INQRI is helping to advance recommendations from the IOM report, which include fostering interprofessional collaboration and preparing and enabling nurses to lead change. By requiring research teams to include a nurse scholar and at least one scholar from another health care discipline, INQRI not only fosters interprofessional collaboration, it also ensures that diverse perspectives are brought to bear in research.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937