Linkages between Nursing and the Quality of Patient Care

An expansive body of literature reflects the state of the science—and the increased importance of INQRI’s goal to measure and enhance nursing’s contribution to the quality of patient care.

The Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) was created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2005 to produce rigorous evidence of the linkages between nursing and quality of health care.

These researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review before the initiative’s launch (2004) and five years after (2009) to determine whether there were scientific advances in understanding the relationship between nursing and patient care quality. They searched eight electronic databases for papers that were primary and secondary data analysis conducted in the United States and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Some 24 percent of the articles described associations between nursing processes and the quality of patient care. A majority assessed the effects of nurse-led interventions. From 2004 to 2009 there was an increase in those studies designed to enhance patient care by nurse-administered interventions or address health equity issues.

The measurement of quality became more comprehensive as more studies measured at least three domains. The number of experimental studies that demonstrated the positive effects of nursing increased. The number of peer-reviewed journals that published studies on nursing's contributions to quality nearly doubled from 80 in 2004 to 148 in 2009. The quality, diversity, and scope of the publications increased as well.