Burnout is a public health crisis that impacts 1 in 3 registered nurses in the United States and the safe provision of patient care. This study sought to understand the cost of nurse burnout-attributed turnover using hypothetical hospital scenarios.
A cost-consequence analysis with a Markov model structure was used to assess nurse burnout-attributed turnover costs under the following scenarios: (1) a hospital with “status quo” nurse burnout prevalence and (2) a hospital with a “burnout reduction program” and decreased nurse burnout prevalence. The model evaluated turnover costs from a hospital payer perspective and modeled a cohort of nurses who were new to a hospital. The outcome measures were defined as years in burnout among the nurse cohort and years retained/employed in the hospital. Data inputs derived from the health services literature base.
The expected model results demonstrated that at status quo, a hospital spends an expected $16,736 per nurse per year employed on nurse burnout-attributed turnover costs. In a hospital with a burnout reduction program, such costs were $11,592 per nurse per year employed. Nurses spent more time in burnout under the status quo scenario compared with the burnout reduction scenario (1.5 versus 1.1 y of employment) as well as less time employed at the hospital (2.9 versus 3.5 y of employment).
Given that status quo costs of burnout are higher than those in a hospital that invests in a nurse burnout reduction program, hospitals should strongly consider proactively supporting programs that reduce nurse burnout prevalence and associated costs.