Nursing resources can have a protective effect on patient outcomes, but nurses and nursing scope of practice have not been studied in relation to injury outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine whether scope of practice and ease of practice laws for nurse practitioners and registered nurses are associated with suicide and homicide rates in the United States.
This state-level analysis used data from 2012 to 2016. The outcome variables were age-adjusted suicide and homicide rates. The predictor variables were NP scope of practice by state (limited, partial, or full) and RN ease of practice (state RN licensure compact membership status). Covariates were state sociodemographic, healthcare, and firearm/firearm policy context variables that have a known relationship with the outcomes.
Full scope of practice for NPs was associated with lower rates of suicide and homicide, with stronger associations for suicide. Likewise, greater ease of practice for RNs was associated with lower suicide and homicide rates.
Findings suggest that nurses are an important component of the healthcare ecosystem as it relates to injury outcomes. Laws supporting full nursing practice may have a protective effect on population health in the area of injuries and future studies should explore this relationship further.