Size matters: A meta-analysis on the impact of hospital size on patient mortality

Naleef Fareed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: This paper seeks to understand the relationship between hospital size and patient mortality. Patient mortality has been used by several studies in the health services research field as a proxy for measuring healthcare quality. Research methods: A systematic review is conducted to identify studies that investigate the impact of hospital size on patient mortality. Using the findings of 21 effect sizes from 10 eligible studies, a meta-analysis is performed using a random effects model. Subgroup analyses using three factors - the measure used for hospital size, type of mortality measure used and whether mortality was adjusted or unadjusted - were utilised to investigate their moderating influence on the study's primary relationship. Results: Results from this analysis indicate that big hospitals have lower odds of patient mortality versus small hospitals. Specifically, the probability of patient mortality in a big hospital, in reference to a small hospital, is 11% less. Subgroup analyses show that studies with unadjusted mortality rates have an even lower overall odds ratio of mortality versus studies with adjusted mortality rates. Conclusions: Aside from some limitations in data reporting, the findings of this paper support theoretical notions that big hospitals have lower mortality rates than small hospitals. Guidelines for better data reporting and future research are provided to further explore the phenomenon. Policy implications of this paper's findings are underscored and a sense of urgency is called for in an effort to help improve the state of a healthcare system that struggles with advancing healthcare quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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