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The upsurge in interest in measuring patient outcomes of nursing, it is argued, has been occasioned firstly by management changes and secondly by the professionalizing thrust of the nursing profession Within this overall context, however, the objectives of individual patient outcome studies vary considerably The current status of outcome measurement in nursing is outlined through a description of the use of different outcome measures to suit different purposes Ascertaining whether nursing care makes a difference by using outcome measures raises methodological as well as professional issues, for example that of separating nursing from the inputs of other professional groups and incorporating individual patients' perspectives While these challenges are complex and measuring the effectiveness of nursing in terms of patient outcomes is in its infancy, it is argued that, in this, nursing is no different from other professional groups The paper goes on to suggest ways of moving forward in the measurement of outcomes of nursing for patients