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Improving Patient Outcomes in Chile

For decades, Penn Nursing has been at the forefront of research evaluating the effects of adequate nurse staffing on improving patient outcomes around the world. Now, with the support of a Penn Global Engagement Fund Award, Penn Nursing faculty will have the opportunity to look specifically at the nursing workforce in Chile.


Nursing faculty Dr. Linda Aiken, Dr. Eileen Lake, and Dr. Matthew McHugh, along with partners from the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Jere Behrman and Dr. Herb Smith, received one of 12 Penn Global Engagement Fund Awards for the 2015-2016 academic year for their project titled Healthcare Workforce and Quality Outcomes: Lessons from Chile, United States and Europe. The team will work with the School of Nursing at Universidad de los Andes to survey nurses at 50 hospitals in Chile about issues such as a patient to staff ratio, relationships between doctors and nurses, and quality and safety assessments. 

These evaluations will be done to lay the groundwork for a larger scale study, based on research developed over the past 20 years by Dr. Aiken, Director of Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR). Established in 1989, CHOPR brings together collaborators from across disciplines to study health system reorganization and policy changes, with the aim to produce research that improves the quality of healthcare. Dr. Aiken has dedicated her career to studying the impact of nursing on patient outcomes and has had a lasting impact on staffing policies around the world. 

Dr. Aiken and her research team at CHOPR have developed actionable policy research in more than 20 countries that is currently being used by government leaders in evidence-based decision making about needed investments in nursing. They have now turned their focus to Latin America, to facilitate more engagement of nurses in important health reform initiatives. Pilot funding provided by the Penn Global Engagement Fund Award will allow Dr. Aiken and the team to prove to stakeholders in hospitals, the Ministry, and collaborating partner universities that further studies can be successful, the results valuable and actionable, and that the international collaboration will position investigators in Chile to participate in follow-up research.

Research on nursing outcomes is underdeveloped in Latin America at a time when more Latin American countries are modernizing their health care systems,” said Aiken. “These efforts that necessarily consider how to get the best value for health care expenditures need rigorous information on how the nursing workforce can help contribute to improved patient outcomes.” 

When this national study of the impact of nursing on quality and safety in Chilean hospitals is completed, it promises to identify successful strategies for nurse-led innovation to improve health and healthcare outcomes in Chile and beyond to other neighboring countries.