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BMJ Qual Saf 20:i92-i96 doi:10.1136/bmjqs.2011.051557
  • Rethinking methods of inference

Analytical studies: a framework for quality improvement design and analysis

Open Access
  1. Lloyd P Provost
  1. Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Associates in Process Improvement, Austin, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Lloyd P Provost, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Associates in Process Improvement, 115 East 5th Street, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78701, USA; lprovost{at}apiweb.org
  • Accepted 18 January 2011

Abstract

Conducting studies for learning is fundamental to improvement. Deming emphasised that the reason for conducting a study is to provide a basis for action on the system of interest. He classified studies into two types depending on the intended target for action. An enumerative study is one in which action will be taken on the universe that was studied. An analytical study is one in which action will be taken on a cause system to improve the future performance of the system of interest. The aim of an enumerative study is estimation, while an analytical study focuses on prediction. Because of the temporal nature of improvement, the theory and methods for analytical studies are a critical component of the science of improvement.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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