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An epistemology of patient safety research: a framework for study design and interpretation. Part 1. Conceptualising and developing interventions

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Richard Thomson


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This is the first of a four-part series of articles examining the epistemology of patient safety research. Parts 2 and 3 will describe different study designs and methods of measuring outcomes in the evaluation of patient safety interventions, before Part 4 suggests that "one size does not fit all". Part 1 sets the scene by defining patient safety research as a challenging form of service delivery and organisational research that has to deal (although not exclusively) with some very rare events. It then considers two inter-related ideas: a causal chain that can be used to identify where in an organisation's structure and/or processes an intervention may impact; and the need for preimplementation evaluation of proposed interventions. Finally, the paper outlines the authors' pragmatist ontological stance to patient safety research, which sets the philosophical basis for the remaining three articles.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brown C, Hofer T, Johal A, Thomson R, Nicholl J, Franklin BD, Lilford RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Quality and Safety in Health Care

Year: 2008

Volume: 17

Issue: 3

Pages: 158-162

ISSN (print): 1475-3898

ISSN (electronic): 1475-3901

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/qshc.2007.023630


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