Title

Valuing Volunteers: The Impact of Volunteerism on Hospital Performance

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2009

Publication Title

Health Care Management Review

DOI

10.1097/HMR.0b013e31819e919a

Abstract

Background: Volunteers have been present in health care settings for centuries. However, there is little empirical evidence regarding the impact that volunteers make on hospital performance. Since the 1990s, hospitals in the United States have had a great deal of pressure to produce high-quality care at minimum expense. These pressures have enhanced the benefits of using volunteers in a hospital setting.

Purpose: This study utilized multiple regression analysis to explore the impact of the use of volunteers and the level of professionalism of volunteer programs on cost effectiveness and patient satisfaction in hospitals.

Methodology/Approach: Hospitals throughout the state of Florida were invited to participate in the study by completing a brief questionnaire about their volunteer programs. Performance indicators of volunteer cost savings and patient satisfaction scores for 50 Florida hospitals were analyzed using data sets from the American Hospital Association and Agency for Health Care Administration along with data obtained from a questionnaire.

Findings: Results indicate that the use of volunteers offers significant cost savings to hospitals and enhances patient satisfaction scores.

Discussion: Larger volunteer programs appear to enhance patient satisfaction while containing costs. Future research opportunities related to the impact of volunteers and volunteer professionalism on other hospital performance measures are suggested.