The Relationship between Nurse to Population Ratio and Population Density: A Pilot Study in a Rural/Frontier State


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between nurse to population ratio and population density. A secondary analysis was conducted, correlating nurse to population data with county-based population density data. The sample consisted of all 17 counties in the state of Nevada (3 urban, 4 rural and 10 frontier). County nurse to population ratios ranged from 178 to 861 per 100,000 population and population density ranged from 0.3 to 173.9 people per square mile (mean of 39.3). Correlational analysis indicated a significant positive relationship between nurse to population ratio and population density (r = .65 (p <.005). Mean nurse to population ratios were found to be significantly different between frontier (356/100,000), rural (682/100,000), and urban (587/100,000) counties (F = 7.53, p =.006). Not surprisingly, the results indicated that the lowest nurse to population ratios occur in areas with the lowest population density. These findings provide rural and frontier nurses with support in advocating for aggressive strategies to address the nurse to population disparity affecting rural and frontier communities.

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