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Public Policy and Administration


David Milen


The United States spends the most per capita of all the developed countries on healthcare but demonstrates the worst healthcare outcomes. National agencies have turned to Registered Nurses (RNs) to improve healthcare outcomes through participation in healthcare policy development. Although the recommendation for participation in policy development exists, RNs, including those in the U.S. state of New Mexico have not participated at high levels. The purpose of this quantitative cross-sectional study was to measure the political astuteness of RNs in New Mexico and to determine to what extent nursing leaders have been successful in diffusing Institute of Medicine recommendations. Rogers’s diffusion of innovations theory framed this study. Clark’s Political Astuteness Inventory (PAI), which measures voting behavior, participation in professional organizations, awareness of policy issues, knowledge of the policy process, and elected officials, and involvement in political processes, was used to assess participants’ political astuteness. A modified PAI was sent to a random representative sample of the population of licensed RNs in New Mexico. There were 411 responses. Secondary relationships between participants’ demographics and PAI scores were analyzed using a t-test and linear-by-linear association. The findings revealed diffusion of the Institute of Medicine recommendations were not successful. The participants of this study mean scores revealed “beginning political astuteness.” The results inform further research and can potentially be used to develop and test interventions to increase RNs’ policy participation. Engaging more RNs in health care policy development may yield positive social change through improved health care outcomes.