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Researchers Advance Understanding of Nurse Practitioner (NP) Quality of Care

An NP stands in front of her research poster and explains data to a male viewer

Learn about the newest scientific studies and evidence on the critical roles NPs play in maintaining and advancing high-quality health care.

It has been five years since the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) updated the NP Quality of Care bibliography. During 2020 NP Week, join us as NPs across the nation reflect on the more than two dozen new scientific studies added to this discussion paper on NP outcomes.

Celebrating Progress

During NP Week, we celebrate the progress made toward advancing the NP Research Agenda, including sharing current resources and highlighting high-quality, peer-reviewed, empirical works that speak to the many disease states and care settings where NP care is contributing to health improvement. The diversity of scientific studies in the updated annotated bibliography emphasizes that NP-focused research continues to draw the interest of health services researchers and is widely published in medical, nursing and public health journals. Though all research is conducted with an awareness of certain assumptions and limitations, each study completed adds to our broad understanding of how NPs positively impact patient outcomes and the overall health care system in the United States.

Reviewing Key Research Studies

AANP has spent the last many months searching for and reviewing scientific studies conducted since 2015 that examine the relationship between NP-provided care and patient outcomes. Similar to previous efforts, the overwhelming majority of studies that compare NP care to physician care in the U.S. continue to find no significant differences in outcomes and, in some instances, find significantly better care outcomes for patients who receive their care from NPs. While some outcomes vary depending on datasets used, sample sizes and years conducted, most researchers and authors conclude that these differences are not clinically significant.

Over time, research examining NP outcomes has continued to apply more advanced designs, methods and statistical models to overcome potential bias. Large-scale studies utilizing hundreds of thousands of patient observations from claims data and proprietary networks have addressed previous critiques related to sample sizes and inadequate follow-up time frames. Advances in research using Veterans Health Administration (VHA) data have also provided unique insights into NP-provided care in systems where NPs practice independently of physician agreements or supervision.

“NPs are uniquely positioned as both consumers and producers of quality research. From the beginning of their nursing education, NPs learn the importance of evidence-based practice and implementing quality improvement strategies to produce cost-savings and improve care outcomes in a variety of settings. Throughout their careers, NPs continue to use research to inform the care of their patients. As the evidence base continues to grow, we applaud the efforts of researchers to conduct and publish critical studies on NP-provided care,” said AANP President Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP.

A diverse collage of eight NPs wear PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic

Your NP Week Call to Action

AANP is proud to provide members with this critical research, particularly as we take this week to celebrate the breadth and depth of the NP role, the critical difference NPs make in the lives of patients and the leadership NPs demonstrate as they advocate for positive change.

This NP Week, AANP urges you to utilize the studies captured within the Quality of NP Practice discussion paper in your advocacy and educational efforts. Review the summary of research supporting the value NPs bring to their patients. Then, join in the NP Week celebration by taking time to share facts about NPs, write a post for your organization’s blog or newsletter to discuss the role of NPs in health care, display NP Week posters or plan other activities for your community!

Join in the NP Week Celebration