For Immediate Release


Gordon Guyatt, M.D., (905) 525-9140
P.J. Devereaux, M.D., (905) 525-9140
Mark Almberg, Physicians for a National Health Program,
(312) 782-6006, cell: (312) 622-0996,

Nonprofit Nursing Homes Provide Better Care, Major Study Finds

For-profit homes faulted for lower staffing, higher rate of bedsores

major new statistical review of 82 individual research studies has
revealed that nonprofit nursing homes deliver, on average, higher
quality care than for-profit nursing homes. The findings could have a
bearing on the present debate about the role of for-profit firms in
U.S. health reform.

results are unequivocal and completely consistent with other studies
comparing for-profit versus nonprofit care," said Dr. Gordon Guyatt,
senior author of the study, professor of medicine at McMaster
University in Hamilton, Canada, and a world leader in "evidence-based
medicine," a term he coined. The study was published in the online
edition of the British Medical Journal earlier this month.

authors' systematic review compared quality-of-care measurements in 82
individual studies that collected data from 1965 to 2003 involving tens
of thousands of nursing homes, mostly in the United States.

40 of the 82 studies, all statistically significant comparisons favored
nonprofit facilities. In three studies, all significant comparisons
favored for-profit facilities. The remaining studies had less
consistent findings.

authors' meta-analysis, i.e. their integration and statistical analysis
of the data from the multiple studies, shows that nonprofit facilities
delivered higher quality care than for-profit facilities for two of the
four most frequently reported quality measures: (1) more or higher
quality staffing and (2) less prevalence of pressure ulcers, sometimes
called bedsores.

results also suggest better performance of nonprofit homes in two other
quality measures: less frequent use of physical restraints and fewer
noted deficiencies (quality violations) in governmental regulatory

reason patients' quality of care is inferior in for-profit nursing
homes is that administrators must spend 10 percent to 15 percent of
revenues satisfying shareholders and paying taxes," said Guyatt.
"For-profit providers cut corners to ensure shareholders achieve their
expected return on investment."

1.5 million people reside in nearly 16,000 nursing homes in the United
States, and more than 3 million Americans will spend at least some time
in a nursing home this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services. About two-thirds of U.S. nursing home residents
live in for-profit facilities.

findings have significant patient-care implications. For example, the
study suggests that of the estimated 80,000 U.S. nursing home residents
who presently have bedsores, 7,000 of these cases are attributable to
for-profit ownership. Similarly, the results suggest U.S. residents
would receive about 500,000 more hours of nursing care per day if
nonprofit institutions replaced for-profit nursing homes.

most of the data in the studies are from U.S. nursing homes, data from
Canada and Taiwan were also reviewed. Results were consistent over time.

authors note that the results are entirely consistent with other
studies. Systematic reviews of the evidence have previously shown
higher death rates in for-profit versus nonprofit hospitals, and in
for-profit versus nonprofit dialysis facilities. Such reviews have also
shown higher costs in for-profit hospitals. Studies of outpatient care
have shown higher quality of care in not-for-profit settings.

results should raise serious concerns about for-profit care, whether in
nursing homes, hospitals, surgi-centers, or other outpatient
facilities," Guyatt said. "It is time to base health care policy on
evidence, not ideology."


of care in for-profit and not-for-profit nursing homes: systematic
review and meta-analysis," Vikram R Comondore, P J Devereaux, Qi Zhou,
Samuel B Stone, Jason W Busse, Nikila C Ravindran, Karen E Burns, Ted
Haines, Bernadette Stringer, Deborah J Cook, Stephen D Walter, Terrence
Sullivan, Otavio Berwanger, Mohit Bhandari, Sarfaraz Banglawala, John N
Lavis, Brad Petrisor, Holger Schünemann, Katie Walsh, Neera Bhatnagar,
and Gordon H Guyatt. BMJ 2009;339:b2732, doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2732, Aug.
4, 2009.

A copy of the study can be found here:


Our pandemic coverage is free to all. As is all of our reporting.

No paywalls. No advertising. No corporate sponsors. Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, traffic to the Common Dreams website has gone through the roof— at times overwhelming and crashing our servers. Common Dreams is a news outlet for everyone and that’s why we have never made our readers pay for the news and never will. But if you can, please support our essential reporting today. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 21,000 members and chapters across the United States.

Share This Article