Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Health Services and Policy Management

First Advisor

Janice Probst


Background: Whereas registered nurse (RN) shortages, turnover and retention have been concerns of nursing home facilities for many years, retention strategies are implemented without evidence of their effectiveness in the long-term care sector. Despite increasing attention to nursing home staff turnover, little is known about the association of retention strategies, organizational hygiene features and facility RN retention in nursing homes.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey, a nationally representative sample of 1,174 nursing homes in the United States. Our outcome of interest was RN retention of more than one year. The multimodal distribution of RN retention percentages were categorized into grossly equivalent groups of low (0-50%), moderate (51-79%) and high retention (80-100%) facilities. The independent variables consisted of management strategies to retain nurses, features of the work environment and work resources, and organizational attributes. Unweighted and weighted bivariate analyses included chi square, t-tests, and ANOVA depending upon the data type. Weighted, multinomial logistic regression analyses were conducted with three, pre-specified models.

Results: Across the entire sample, on average, nursing homes were able to retain 67.3% of facility RN staff for more than one year. Although many nursing homes offered retention programs, most strategies did not have a significant association with the level of RN retention reported by facilities with the exception of career ladders and attendance awards. Career ladder and attendance award offerings were concentrated in the moderate retention category (51%-79%) versus the high or low retention groups. Nursing homes with chain affiliation, dementia care units, parenteral nutrition services and the provision of paid sick days for staff had higher odds of being in the moderate RN retention category than the low or high groups. Director of nursing employment tenure had the strongest and most consistent association with RN retention in adjusted analyses with significant variability among low, moderate and high retention categories.

Conclusions: This cross sectional analysis does not provide causal explanations of retention phenomenon in nursing homes, however some relationships were suggested. In order to improve RN retention, nursing home organizations should consider the stability of DON leadership, attend to the clinical work environment and offer benefit programs that nurses value.


© 2010, Selina Roberdeau Hunt Mckinney