Introduction: The ongoing challenge for Chilean hospitals of meeting population health needs merits attention to the health care workforce. No studies have explored how nursing might contribute to addressing this challenge. International research shows that organizational characteristics of the nursing workforce and practice environment are associated with patient outcomes. Chile lacks actionable evidence that applies to its context of care.
Method: First, a review of international literature was developed to synthesize evidence on the association between organizational characteristics of the nursing workforce and patient outcomes. Second, a review of literature and other nonacademic sources was performed to describe the context of care and data pertaining to nurses in Chilean hospitals. Third, a research agenda for efficient utilization of the hospital nursing workforce in Chile was proposed.
Results: International evidence shows that low patient-to-nurse ratios, high skill mix, and good practice environments are associated with better patient outcomes. Chilean hospitals have financial constraints that greatly influence the context of nursing practice and the scarce data about nursing organization call for greater attention.
Conclusion: The establishment and implementation of a research agenda is needed to build local evidence regarding effective organization of nurses to inform policies and to improve patient outcomes in Chile.
Keywords: Chile; hospitals; nurse staffing; nursing skill mix; patient outcomes; practice environment.