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Visualising differences in professionals' perspectives on quality and safety


Background The safety-and-quality movement is now two decades old. Errors persist despite best efforts, indicating that there are entrenched overt and perhaps less explicit barriers limiting the success of improvement efforts.

Objectives and hypotheses To examine the perspectives of five groups of healthcare workers (administrative staff, nurses, medical practitioners, allied health and managers) and to compare and contrast their descriptions of quality-and-safety activities within their organisation. Differences in perspectives can be an indicator of divergence in the conceptualisation of, and impetus for, quality-improvement strategies which are intended to engage healthcare professions and staff.

Design, setting and participants Study data were collected in a defined geographical healthcare jurisdiction in Australia, via individual and group interviews held across four service streams (aged care and rehabilitation; mental health; community health; and cancer services). Data were collected in 2008 and analysed, using data-mining software, in 2009.

Results Clear differences in the perspectives of professional groups were evident, suggesting variations in the perceptions of, and priorities for, quality and safety.

Conclusions The visual representation of quality and safety perspectives provides insights into the conceptual maps currently utilised by healthcare workers. Understanding the similarity and differences in these maps may enable more effective targeting of interprofessional improvement strategies.

  • Communication
  • culture
  • healthcare quality
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • safety culture

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