Objective: This study 1) identified the research evidence; 2) assessed the state-of-the-science surrounding hospital ownership, performance, and outcomes in acute care hospitals in the United States; and 3) identified measurable components of hospital performance and outcomes for the organization, patient, and community.
Background: As the size of the nonprofit sector decreases and the size of the for-profit sector increases, hospital ownership warrants examination. Most research has focused on either ownership and performance or ownership and outcomes, rather than the potential interaction of all three variables.
Methods: A comprehensive, computerized search of the healthcare research literature yielded 69 data-based references published between 1985 and 1999. Coding sheets were developed to abstract the articles. Analysis involved synthesizing the research evidence for each of the three major variables and their components.
Results: Hospital ownership has an impact on hospital performance in relation to system operations; costs, prices, and financial management practices; and personnel issues. Organizational outcomes are similar among hospital ownership types in relation to increasing administrative costs and overall mediocre efficiency. Organizational outcomes differ among hospital ownership types in relation to nursing staff mix and professional satisfaction. The association of hospital ownership with patient outcomes varies depending on the dimension measured. The evidence is mixed or inconclusive regarding hospital ownership and access to care, morbidity, and mortality. The association of hospital ownership and adverse events is consistently supported. Hospital ownership status has an impact on the type and magnitude of community benefits. Differences among the three hospital ownership types are minimized in a competitive market.
Conclusions: This study reinforces the position that nurse researchers need to include hospital ownership as an important structural variable in their studies of hospital-based nursing. Examining the conceptual links between ownership, performance, and outcomes requires the integration of macro-level and micro-level theory.