A literature review of nursing turnover costs

J Nurs Manag. 2013 Apr;21(3):405-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2012.01411.x. Epub 2012 Jun 19.


Aim: To report the findings of a literature review of studies examining nursing staff turnover costs published between 1990 and 2010.

Background: Nurse turnover is a global concern that is both costly for health-care organizations and, in the context of the work environment, affects quality and safety.

Evaluation: We reviewed past literature and describe the conceptualization of nurse turnover, evaluate the methodologies and calculation of costs, identify the reported range of turnover costs and provide suggestions for future study.

Key issues: We report inconsistencies in past studies in terms of the conceptualization and measurement of nurse turnover and turnover rates, the methodologies for gathering data and the data sources used, the approaches for calculating turnover costs and the resulting nursing staff turnover costs estimated.

Conclusion: Past studies reached different conclusions about nurse turnover. We still need to explore the actual costs and benefits of nurse turnover and retention.

Implications for nursing management: This study should be helpful for nurse executives as they build a business case to address nurse turnover in their organizations, and for policy-makers as they develop policies about turnover.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Nursing Administration Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Turnover / economics*
  • Quality of Health Care