Patient-centered variables and their relationship to primary and team nursing have rarely been studied. In the present study the investigators focused on the following patient-centered variables: nurturance received, patient involvement, and frequency of nurse-patient contacts. Baseline observational data were collected on 12 adult medical patients experiencing team nursing care. A primary nursing care approach was then implemented on the same nursing unit, and 6 months later 12 patients were observed under this system. Patients were directly observed 24 hours a day for 5 days of hospitalization and audiotaped, using a specimen record method. This method produced transcripts that were coded for nurturance, involvement, and nurse-patient contacts. Results of the study showed that there were no differences between primary and team nursing care groups in the number of contacts, nurturance, or patient involvement with all nursing personnel or with professional nurses. However, when the primary group was adjusted to include only those patients for whom primary nursing care was fully implemented, the primary group received more nurturance (p≤.05) and had a tendency to be more actively involved than did the team group (p≤.10). These findings indicate that the institution of primary nursing care is related to increased quality of nursing care.