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A literature review of nursing turnover costs


Yin Li
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
NC 27599-7460


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.