Methods, metrics and research gaps around minimum data sets for nursing practice and fundamental care: A scoping literature review

Åsa Muntlin Athlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To examine and map research on minimum data sets linked to nursing practice and the fundamentals of care. Another aim was to identify gaps in the evidence to suggest future research questions to highlight the need for standardisation of terminology around nursing practice and fundamental care. Background: Addressing fundamental care has been highlighted internationally as a response to missed nursing care. Systematic performance measurements are needed to capture nursing practice outcomes. Design: Overview of the literature framed by the scoping study methodology. Method: PubMed and CINAHL were searched using the following inclusion criteria: peer-reviewed empirical quantitative and qualitative studies related to minimum data sets and nursing practice published in English. No time restrictions were set. Exclusion criteria were as follows: no available full text, reviews and methodological and discursive studies. Data were categorised into one of the fundamentals of care elements. Results: The review included 20 studies published in 1999–2016. Settings were mainly nursing homes or hospitals. Of 14 elements of the fundamentals of care, 11 were identified as measures in the included studies, but their frequency varied. The most commonly identified elements concerned safety, prevention and medication (n = 11), comfort (n = 6) and eating and drinking (n = 5). Conclusion: Studies have used minimum data sets and included variables linked to nursing practices and fundamentals of care. However, the relations of these variables to nursing practice were not always clearly described and the main purpose of the studies was seldom to measure the outcomes of nursing interventions. More robust studies focusing on nursing practice and patient outcomes are warranted. Relevance to clinical practice: Using minimum data sets can highlight the nurses' work and what impact it has on direct patient care. Appropriate models, systems and standardised terminology are needed to facilitate the documentation of nursing activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2230-2247
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017


  • Fundamental care
  • International Learning Collaborative
  • Minimum data sets
  • Nursing care
  • Person-centred care
  • scoping literature review
  • Methods, metrics and research gaps


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