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Strategies for improving patient safety culture in hospitals: a systematic review
  1. Renata Teresa Morello1,
  2. Judy A Lowthian1,
  3. Anna Lucia Barker1,
  4. Rosemary McGinnes1,
  5. David Dunt2,
  6. Caroline Brand1
  1. 1Centre of Research Excellence in Patient Safety, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Renata Teresa Morello, Centre of Research Excellence in Patient Safety (CRE-PS), School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; renata.morello{at}


Purpose To determine the effectiveness of patient safety culture strategies to improve hospital patient safety climate.

Data sources Electronic search of the Cochrane Library, OVID Medline, Embase, CINAHL, proQuest and psychinfo databases, with manual searches of quality and safety websites, bibliographies of included articles and key journals.

Study selection English language studies published between January 1996 and April 2011 that measured the effectiveness of patient safety culture strategies using a quantitative measure of patient safety climate in a hospital setting. Studies included were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), non-RCTs, controlled before and after studies, interrupted time series and historically controlled studies.

Data extraction Data extraction and critical appraisal were conducted by two independent reviewers. Study design, intervention, level of application, setting, study participants, safety climate outcome measures and implementation lessons were extracted from each article.

Results of data synthesis Over 2000 articles were screened, with 21 studies meeting the inclusion criteria, one cluster RCT, seven controlled before and after studies, and 13 historically controlled studies. There was marked methodological heterogeneity amongst studies. Impacts of 11 different strategies were reported. There was some evidence to support that leadership walk rounds (p=0.02) and multi-faceted unit-based programmes (p< 0.05) may have a positive impact on patient safety climate.

Conclusions Despite strong face validity for a variety of patient safety culture strategies, there is limited evidence to support definitive impacts on patient safety climate outcomes. Organisations are advised to consider robust evaluation designs when implementing these potentially resource intensive strategies.

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