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Release: Immediate

Researchers receive $2.4 million to develop standardized nursing language

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Researchers at the University of Iowa College of Nursing have received more than $2.4 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue development of a standardized language to describe patient outcomes that result from nursing care.

The four-year contract award comes through NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research and will be administered by the UI Center for Nursing Classification's Nursing Outcomes Classification project. The funding will support testing and validation of outcome classifications and measurement scales that have already been developed.

"We're very pleased to receive continued support for this project," principal investigator Marion Johnson, Ph.D., said. "Our work is at a critical juncture, and this funding will permit us to test the outcome classifications in the real world."

Johnson is an associate professor of nursing and director of the nursing college's graduate programs. Her co-principal investigators on the project are Meridean Maas, Ph.D., professor of nursing, and Sue Moorhead, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing.

Nursing outcomes are changes in patients' health status that result from nursing care. Using standardized terms to refer to these outcomes is important, Johnson said, because computerization of patient records and managed care require that information about patients be accessible to different health care providers in a consistent format. Also, Johnson said, a standard language will facilitate better communication among nurses, other health care professionals and patients.

The nursing outcomes classification project previously received $1 million in NIH funding to develop an initial catalog of outcomes from surveys, academic literature and other sources. Investigators also identified key indicators to be used as measuring sticks in assessing patients' health status.

The classification system developed at the UI has already been recognized by the American Nurses Association, and Johnson said the project's goal is to become the major unified language for nursing outcomes. The new NIH grant will be used to field test the system in various care settings in Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, including hospitals, nursing homes and home care settings.

A coordinator at each of the study sites will work with the principal investigators and with local care givers to put the outcome classifications into practice. Members of the research team then will assess the validity and usefulness of the outcomes as well as the indicators used to measure them. Additional outcomes will be developed as needed to describe those not previously covered by the existing classification.