Carberry C. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1998; 4: 2–8
Outcomes steering practice: When the ends determine the means
A discussion of outcomes and outcomes measurement will be presented through an examination of achievements of a collaborative project awarded a federal best practice grant in 1995. The project, which established a new service for women of nonEnglish-speaking background, was part of a national venture which sought to benchmark best practice in the primary health care field. The process of benchmarking demanded that the approach to outcomes and outcomes measurement adopted by the project participants be articulated. The approach adopted acknowledges that outcomes are affected by the processes involved in care, which in turn are dependent upon the organisational environment in which care is offered and experienced. Both these contributing factors to outcomes can be hard to measure and, therefore, could be at risk of being omitted from the outcome equation in these economically stringent times. This paper aims to contribute to debate on the topic by recommending an approach to outcomes measurement which is comprehensive, values quality and embraces the short, medium and longer term.