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Med Care Res Rev. 2006 Jun;63(3):347-68.

Nursing home consumer complaints and quality of care: a national view.

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Harvard University, USA.


This study uses 5 years of national data on investigated nursing home complaints (1998-2002) to evaluate whether complaints might be used to assess nursing home quality of care. On-Line Survey Certification and Reporting (OSCAR) data are used to evaluate the association between consumer complaints, facility and resident characteristics, and other nursing home quality measures. The analyses are undertaken in the context of considerable cross-state variation in nursing home complaint processes and rates. Complaints varied across facility characteristics in ways consistent with the nursing home quality literature. Complaints were significantly positively associated with survey deficiencies and the presence of serious survey deficiencies, and significantly negatively associated with nurse and nurse aide staffing. Complaints performance was significantly predictive of survey deficiencies at subsequent inspections. This study presents the first national evidence for using consumer complaints to assess nursing home quality of care. Despite limitations, nursing home complaints appear to offer a real-time signal of quality concerns.

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