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J Adv Nurs. 2002 May;38(4):378-86.

Defining and measuring nursing productivity: a concept analysis and pilot study.

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  • 1Army Nurse Corps, 67th Combat Support Hospital, Wuerzburg, Germany.



The purpose of this article is fourfold. First we report a concept analysis of nursing productivity to show the complexity of the concept and its measurement. We then show how the concept analysis was used to design a method for measuring nursing productivity. Third, we describe how we used this measure in a pilot study of the impact of a differentiated Registered Nurse (RN) practice model on productivity. Finally, we identify the challenges encountered and present recommendations for nurse executives and researchers based on our findings.


We believe our experience can be useful to nurse executives and researchers who are interested in studying the impact of care delivery models on nursing productivity.


We defined productivity as the ratio of output (patient care hours per patient day) to input (paid salary and benefit dollars). We conducted a pilot test using the productivity measure developed from the concept analysis to determine the effects of a differentiated RN practice model on patient, staff, and organizational outcomes. The purpose of the pilot study was to determine whether the data needed to measure productivity could be obtained from administrative databases and to develop the steps and process for the analysis. We analysed data by 2-week pay periods for two quarters prior to implementation of the differentiated nursing practice model and for two quarters after implementation to assess for changes in nursing productivity.


Pilot testing showed that we could detect changes in productivity using this measurement approach. It also revealed several challenges in using administrative databases to measure productivity.


We discuss these challenges with recommendations for both nurse executives and researchers. The most reasonable approach for operational decision-making is longitudinal monitoring of productivity by organizational units combined with indicators of quality of patient care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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