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Gerontologist. 2006 Feb;46(1):74-80.

Nursing home staffing standards: their relationship to nurse staffing levels.

Author information

  • 1University of Minnesota School of Nursing, 5-160 WDH, 308 Harvard Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. cmueller@umn.edu



This study reviews staffing standards from the 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine if these standards are related to nursing home staffing levels.


Rules and regulations for states' nursing home staffing standards were obtained for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nurse staffing data were obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services On-Line Survey, Certification, and Reporting (known as OSCAR) database. The minimum hours per resident day (HPRD) staffing standards for each state were categorized according to the following: no state-specific HPRD standard (adheres only to federal staffing guidelines); low HPRD standard (< or = 2.5 HPRD); and high HPRD standard (> 2.5 HPRD). A series of hierarchical linear models examined the relationships between state staffing standards and actual facility staffing (total, licensed, and certified nurse aide HPRD), using a number of covariates.


The variance in facility staffing was much greater within than between states. Facilities in states with high staffing standards had somewhat higher staffing than states with no standards or low standards, whereas facility staffing in states with low standards was not significantly different from that in states with no standards. Other factors, such as resident acuity and average state Medicaid rate, also were related to staffing.


State staffing standards may not be effective policy tools because they are only one of many factors that affect facility staffing levels. Setting a low minimum HPRD standard may fail to raise staffing, or it may even have a dampening effect on staffing rates in facilities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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