Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

School of Aging Studies

Major Professor

Kathryn Hyer, Ph.D., MPP

Committee Member

Brent J. Small, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sandra L. Reynolds, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa M. Brown, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Pamela B. Teaster, Ph.D.


complaints, deficiency citations, nursing homes, quality of care, substantiation


The quality of care in nursing homes has been evaluated from many varying perspectives, but few studies have analyzed quality in light of complaints made to state survey agencies by residents, their family members, or other individuals interacting with the nursing home. This study analyzed complaints, investigation of complaint allegations, and complaint-related deficiency citations to determine their effect, if any, on the quality of care in nationwide nursing homes. Using the Online Survey Certification and Reporting (OSCAR) survey dataset for facility characteristics and the complaint investigation dataset for outcomes of complaint investigation, analyses conducted included descriptives, correlations, conceptual mapping for complaint-related deficiencies, chi-square tests of independence, t-tests, and generalized estimating equations. At baseline, approximately 66% of nursing homes were for-profit and roughly 53% belonged to a chain membership, while the average percent of residents receiving Medicaid for care reimbursement was 60%. Results indicated that nursing homes differed significantly by profit status and chain membership on whether a complaint was received and whether a deficiency citation was issued following a complaint investigation. Additionally, certain facility and resident-aggregated characteristics, as indicated by odds ratios, were associated with an increase in the likelihood of receiving a complaint or a complaint-related citation. With respect to facility characteristics, for-profit nursing homes and those nursing homes belonging to a chain membership were found to have more complaints and more complaint-related deficiency citations than nonprofit nursing homes and non-chain facilities. Resident-aggregated characteristics, such as a nursing home having more residents restrained, more residents with a catheter, or more residents with a diagnosis of depression, indicated a greater likelihood of receiving a complaint or complaint-related deficiency citation in longitudinal analyses. While additional research could aid in interpreting the effect of complaints on quality of care in nursing homes, study results indicate several facility and resident-aggregated factors that may aid in better understanding of quality of care and improve the training of surveyors and nursing home staff to improve quality of care for residents.