Primary nursing: is it worth it?



In this paper a small sample of the massive, and largely North American, primary nursing literature is reviewed and three categories of writing identified: (1) descriptive literature, (2) literature of formative evaluation, and (3) literature of summative evaluation. The descriptive literature is examined in an attempt to decide whether primary nursing is worth trying. The literature of formative evaluation is then explored in order to determine whether the process of implementing primary nursing is, in itself, worthwhile. Finally, taking staff satisfaction, patient satisfaction, quality of care and the cost of primary nursing as the foci of evaluation, the literature of summative evaluation is considered to ascertain whether the outcomes of primary nursing merit the investment. The answers to each of these three questions of worth, posed by the three categories of writing, appear to be respectively a definite, a probable and tentative ‘yes’.