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The National Nursing Assistant Survey: Improving the Evidence Base for Policy Initiatives to Strengthen the Certified Nursing Assistant Workforce

Publication Date
Mar 31, 2009

This study introduces the first National Nursing Assistant Survey (NNAS), a major advance in the data available about certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and a rich resource for evidence-based policy, practice, and applied research initiatives. We highlight potential uses of this new survey using select population estimates as examples of how the NNAS can be used to inform new policy directions. The NNAS is a nationally representative survey of 3,017 CNAs working in nursing homes, who were interviewed by phone in 2004-2005. Key survey components are recruitment; education; training and licensure; job history; family life; management and supervision; client relations; organizational commitment and job satisfaction; workplace environment; work-related injuries; and demographics. One in three CNAs received some kind of means-tested public assistance. More than half of CNAs incurred at least 1 work-related injury within the past year and almost one-quarter were unable to work for at least 1 day due to the injury. Forty-two percent of uninsured CNAs cite not participating in their employer-sponsored insurance plan because they could not afford the plan. Years of experience do not translate into higher wages; CNAs with 10 or more years of experience averaged just $2/hr more than aides who started working in the field less than 1 year ago. This study can be used to understand CNA workforce issues and challenges and to plan for sustainable solutions to stabilize this workforce. The NNAS can be linked to other existing data sets to examine more comprehensive and complex relationships among CNA, facility, resident, and community characteristics, thereby expanding its usefulness. (The Gerontologist 2009, 49(2):185-197; doi:10.1093/geront/gnp024) [30 PDF pages]