Standardized nursing languages: essential for the nursing workforce

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Annu Rev Nurs Res

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annual Review of Nursing Research

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version


Start Page


End Page



The evolution of standardized nursing languages (SNLs) has been occurring for more than four decades. The importance of this work continues to be acknowledged as an effective strategy to delineate professional nursing practice. In today's health care environment, the demand to deliver cost-effective, safe, quality patient care is an essential mandate embedded in all health reform policies. Communicating the contributions of professional nursing practice to other nurses, health providers, and other members of the health care team requires the articulation of nursing's focus of concern and responses to these concerns to improve patient outcomes. The visibility of the electronic health record (EHR) in practice settings has accelerated the need for nursing to communicate its practice within the structure of the electronic format. The integration of SNLs into the patient record offers nurses an opportunity to describe the focus of their practice through the identification of nursing diagnosis, interventions and outcomes (IOM, 2010). Continued development, testing, and refinement of SNLs offers nursing an accurate and reliable way to use data elements across populations and settings to communicate nursing practice, enable nursing administrators and leaders in health care to delineate needed resources, cost out nursing care with greater precision, and design new models of care that reflect nurse-patient ratios and patient acuity that are data driven (Pesut & Herman, 1998). The continued use of nursing languages and acceleration of nursing research using this data can provide the needed evidence to help link nursing knowledge to evidence-driven, cost-effective, quality outcomes that more accurately reflect nursing's impact on patient care as well as the health care system of which they are a part. The evaluation of research to support the development, use, and continued refinement of nursing language is critical to research and the transformation of patient care by nurses on a global level.


Data Collection/standards, Electronic Health Records/standards, Evidence-Based Nursing/standards, Humans, Nursing, Nursing Diagnosis/standards, Nursing Research/standards, Quality Improvement, Reference Standards, Vocabulary, Controlled

Published Article/Book Citation

Annual Review of Nursing Research, 28: (2010) pp.253-294.

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