Cluster Analysis in Nursing Research: An Introduction, Historical Perspective, and Future Directions

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Abstract

The use of cluster analysis in the nursing literature is limited to the creation of classifications of homogeneous groups and the discovery of new relationships. As such, it is important to provide clarity regarding its use and potential. The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to distance-based, partitioning-based, and model-based cluster analysis methods commonly utilized in the nursing literature, provide a brief historical overview on the use of cluster analysis in nursing literature, and provide suggestions for future research. An electronic search included three bibliographic databases, PubMed, CINAHL and Web of Science. Key terms were cluster analysis and nursing. The use of cluster analysis in the nursing literature is increasing and expanding. The increased use of cluster analysis in the nursing literature is positioning this statistical method to result in insights that have the potential to change clinical practice.

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