Just What the Nurse Practitioner Ordered: Independent Prescriptive Authority and Population Mental Health

72 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2017 Last revised: 15 Feb 2019

See all articles by Diane Alexander

Diane Alexander

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Molly Schnell

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2016-12-20

Abstract

We examine whether relaxing occupational licensing to allow nurse practitioners (NPs)—registered nurses with advanced degrees—to prescribe medication without physician oversight is associated with improved population mental health. Exploiting time-series variation in independent prescriptive authority for NPs from 1990–2014, we find that broadening prescriptive authority is associated with improvements in self-reported mental health and decreases in mental-health-related mortality, including suicides. These improvements are concentrated in areas underserved by psychiatrists and among populations traditionally underserved by mental health providers. Our results demonstrate that extending prescriptive authority to NPs can help mitigate physician shortages and extend care to disadvantaged populations.

Keywords: C-sections, Disability insurance, Medically underserved areas, Mental health, Nurse practitioner, Population

JEL Classification: I12, I13, I14

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Diane and Schnell, Molly, Just What the Nurse Practitioner Ordered: Independent Prescriptive Authority and Population Mental Health (2016-12-20). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. WP-2017-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2985991

Diane Alexander (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Molly Schnell

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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