Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: BMJ quality & safety


To determine the association of hospital nursing skill mix with patient mortality, patient ratings of their care and indicators of quality of care.

Concepts: Cross-sectional study, The Association, Physician, Patient, Hospital


Studies finding higher mortality rates for patients admitted to hospital at weekends rely on routine administrative data to adjust for risk of death, but these data may not adequately capture severity of illness. We examined how rates of patient arrival at accident and emergency (A&E) departments by ambulance-a marker of illness severity-were associated with in-hospital mortality by day and time of attendance.

Concepts: Patient, Hospital


Problems of quality and safety persist in health systems worldwide. We conducted a large research programme to examine culture and behaviour in the English National Health Service (NHS).

Concepts: English Canadian, Health care, English people, Healthcare, England, Health economics, Medicine, National Health Service


The identification and articulation of programme theory can support effective design, execution and evaluation of quality improvement (QI) initiatives. Programme theory includes an agreed aim, potential interventions to achieve this aim, anticipated cause/effect relationships between the interventions and the aim and measures to monitor improvement. This paper outlines the approach used in a research and improvement programme to support QI initiatives in identifying and articulating programme theory: the action effect method.

Concepts: Effect, Identification, Effectiveness, The Action


There is strong evidence to show that lower nurse staffing levels in hospitals are associated with worse patient outcomes. One hypothesised mechanism is the omission of necessary nursing care caused by time pressure-‘missed care’.

Concepts: Nursing care plan, Hospital, Nurse, Nursing


Plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles provide a structure for iterative testing of changes to improve quality of systems. The method is widely accepted in healthcare improvement; however there is little overarching evaluation of how the method is applied. This paper proposes a theoretical framework for assessing the quality of application of PDSA cycles and explores the consistency with which the method has been applied in peer-reviewed literature against this framework.

Concepts: Science, Academic journal, Review, Open access, Database, Peer review, Academic publishing, Scientific method


Efforts to ensure effective participation of patients in healthcare are called by many names-patient centredness, patient engagement, patient experience. Improvement initiatives in this domain often resemble the efforts of manufacturers to engage consumers in designing and marketing products. Services, however, are fundamentally different than products; unlike goods, services are always ‘coproduced’. Failure to recognise this unique character of a service and its implications may limit our success in partnering with patients to improve health care. We trace a partial history of the coproduction concept, present a model of healthcare service coproduction and explore its application as a design principle in three healthcare service delivery innovations. We use the principle to examine the roles, relationships and aims of this interdependent work. We explore the principle’s implications and challenges for health professional development, for service delivery system design and for understanding and measuring benefit in healthcare services.

Concepts: Medicine, Marketing, Health, Patient, Healthcare, Illness, Health care, Health care provider


BACKGROUND: Interest in human factors has increased across healthcare communities and institutions as the value of human centred design in healthcare becomes increasingly clear. However, as human factors is becoming more prominent, there is growing evidence of confusion about human factors science, both anecdotally and in scientific literature. Some of the misconceptions about human factors may inadvertently create missed opportunities for healthcare improvement. METHODS: The objective of this article is to describe the scientific discipline of human factors and provide common ground for partnerships between healthcare and human factors communities. RESULTS: The primary goal of human factors science is to promote efficiency, safety and effectiveness by improving the design of technologies, processes and work systems. As described in this article, human factors also provides insight on when training is likely (or unlikely) to be effective for improving patient safety. Finally, we outline human factors specialty areas that may be particularly relevant for improving healthcare delivery and provide examples to demonstrate their value. CONCLUSIONS: The human factors concepts presented in this article may foster interdisciplinary collaborations to yield new, sustainable solutions for healthcare quality and patient safety.

Concepts: Health, Medicine, Clinical trial, Health care provider, Healthcare quality, Illness, Social sciences, Science


Improvement (defined broadly as purposive efforts to secure positive change) has become an increasingly important activity and field of inquiry within healthcare. This article offers an overview of possible methods for the study of improvement interventions. The choice of available designs is wide, but debates continue about how far improvement efforts can be simultaneously practical (aimed at producing change) and scientific (aimed at producing new knowledge), and whether the distinction between the practical and the scientific is a real and useful one. Quality improvement projects tend to be applied and, in some senses, self-evaluating. They are not necessarily directed at generating new knowledge, but reports of such projects if well conducted and cautious in their inferences may be of considerable value. They can be distinguished heuristically from research studies, which are motivated by and set out explicitly to test a hypothesis, or otherwise generate new knowledge, and from formal evaluations of improvement projects. We discuss variants of trial designs, quasi-experimental designs, systematic reviews, programme evaluations, process evaluations, qualitative studies, and economic evaluations. We note that designs that are better suited to the evaluation of clearly defined and static interventions may be adopted without giving sufficient attention to the challenges associated with the dynamic nature of improvement interventions and their interactions with contextual factors. Reconciling pragmatism and research rigour is highly desirable in the study of improvement. Trade-offs need to be made wisely, taking into account the objectives involved and inferences to be made.

Concepts: Study skills, Evaluation, Pragmatism, Logic, Science, Empiricism, Inquiry, Scientific method


The role and value of theory in improvement work in healthcare has been seriously underrecognised. We join others in proposing that more informed use of theory can strengthen improvement programmes and facilitate the evaluation of their effectiveness. Many professionals, including improvement practitioners, are unfortunately mystified-and alienated-by theory, which discourages them from using it in their work. In an effort to demystify theory we make the point in this paper that, far from being discretionary or superfluous, theory (‘reason-giving’), both informal and formal, is intimately woven into virtually all human endeavour. We explore the special characteristics of grand, mid-range and programme theory; consider the consequences of misusing theory or failing to use it; review the process of developing and applying programme theory; examine some emerging criteria of ‘good’ theory; and emphasise the value, as well as the challenge, of combining informal experience-based theory with formal, publicly developed theory. We conclude that although informal theory is always at work in improvement, practitioners are often not aware of it or do not make it explicit. The germane issue for improvement practitioners, therefore, is not whether they use theory but whether they make explicit the particular theory or theories, informal and formal, they actually use.

Concepts: The Point, Program, Theory, Theorem, Formal, Computer program