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The University of Southampton
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Research project: Nurse Forecasting in Europe

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This study, undertaken in collaboration with a large international consortium seeks to explore how the size and composition of the registered nursing workforce affects the quality of care in hospitals. Further it will explore the implications of this for workforce planning. At its core is an extended replication of Linda Aiken's classic studies which associated the size of the nursing workforce with mortality.

Current human resources planning models in nursing are unreliable and ineffective as they consider volumes, but ignore effects on quality in patient care. Funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission, the RN4CAST project aims at introducing innovative forecasting methods by addressing not only volumes, but quality of nursing staff and its effects on patient care as well. RN4CAST thus opens the opportunity to generate new approaches to more effective management of nursing resources, ultimately securing better outcomes for patients around the world.

The study comprises a consortium of research teams from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the UK. Norway entered the project in a later phase and will serve as a reference country. The study focuses on medical and surgical care within general acute hospitals to create a clear picture of the relationship between nursing workforce planning and patient outcomes. Data was collected anonymously from nurses and patients in addition to hospital discharge records, to investigate how elements including nurse qualifications, demographics, workload, well-being and practice environment can effect productivity, patient safety and patient outcomes. Collectively, research in the 12 European countries encompasses up to 500 hospitals, 50,000 nurses, 12,000 patients and hospital discharge data from hundreds of thousands of patients.

Researchers from 3 International Cooperating Partner Countries of the European Union are to collaborate in this largest ever nursing workforce study to be undertaken. They will provide a broader international perspective on the results of the study, which are expected mid 2011. The project is coordinated by Walter Sermeus, Professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and co-coordinated by Linda Aiken, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Project team

Peter Griffiths

Project funder

EU FP7 programme

Related research groups

Health Work and Systems
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