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The association between nursing skill mix and mortality for adult medical and surgical patients: protocol for a systematic review

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Skill mix refers to the number and educational experience of nurses working in clinical settings. Authors have used several measures to determine the skill mix, which includes nurse-to-patient ratio and the proportion of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Observational studies have tested the association between nursing skill mix and patient outcomes (mortality). To date, this body of research has not been subject to systematic review or meta-analysis. The aim of this study is to systematically review and meta-analyse observational and experimental research that tests the association between nursing skill mix and patient mortality in medical and surgical settings. We will search four key electronic databases—MEDLINE [OVID], EMBASE [OVID], CINAHL [EBSCOhost], and ProQuest Central (five databases)—from inception. Title, abstract, and full-text screening will be undertaken independently by at least two researchers using COVIDENCE review management software. We will include studies where the authors report an association between nursing skill mix and outcomes in adult medical and surgical inpatients. Extracted data from included studies will consist measures of nursing skill mix and inpatient mortality outcomes. A meta-analysis will be undertaken if there are at least two studies with similar designs, exposures, and outcomes. The findings will inform future research and workforce planning in health systems internationally.



  • School of Nursing and Midwifery

Publication Date



International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





Article Number



9p. (p. 1-9)





Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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