Bayesian network, large databases, logistic regression, nursing research, outcomes, prediction



  1. Lee, Sun-Mi
  2. Abbott, Patricia
  3. Johantgen, Mary


Background: In nursing research, the interest in using large health care databases to predict nursing sensitive outcomes is growing rapidly. Traditionally, one of the most frequently used methods is logistic regression (LR), which, although powerful and familiar, has several limitations when used in the analysis of large databases. As a result, innovative approaches are required.


Approach: To (a) introduce an innovative/alternative data analysis approach (Bayesian network), (b) discuss the constraints of LR and the complementary advantages of Bayesian networks (BNs) in working with large and multidimensional health care data, and (c) provide a fundamental understanding of the use of BNs in the nursing/health care domain.


Results: Studies have shown that BNs have several advantages over LR in analyzing complex and large data: (a) statistical assumptions, such as linearity and additivity, are relaxed; (b) handling of a larger number of predictors and identification of interactions among predictors is less complex; and (c) the discovery of structure, pattern, and knowledge, for example, of unknown, complex, and nonlinear relationships, in data is facilitated.


Conclusion: Outcome studies, such as those undertaken by nurse researchers, may benefit from the examination and use of innovative approaches such as BNs to the analysis of very large and complex health care data sets.