Improving patient safety culture in general practice: An interview study

S. Verbakel, A.A. de Bont, T. Verheij, C. Wagner, D. Zwart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


When improving patient safety a positive safety culture is key. As little is known about improving patient safety culture in primary care, this study examined whether administering a culture questionnaire with or without a complementary workshop could be used as an intervention for improving safety culture.

To gain insight into how two interventions affected patient safety culture in everyday practice.

Design and setting:
After conducting a randomised control trial of two interventions, this was a qualitative study conducted in 30 general practices to aid interpretation of the previous quantitative findings.

Interviews were conducted at practice locations (n = 27) with 24 GPs and 24 practice nurses. The theory of communities of practice--in particular, its concepts of a domain, a community, and a practice--was used to interpret the findings by examining which elements were or were not present in the participating practices.

Communal awareness of the problem was only raised after getting together and discussing patient safety. The combination of a questionnaire and workshop enhanced the interaction of team members and nourished team feelings. This shared experience also helped them to understand and develop tools and language for daily practice.

In order for patient safety culture to improve, the safety culture questionnaire was more successful when accompanied by a practice workshop. Initial discussion and negotiation of shared goals during the workshop fuelled feelings of coherence and belonging to a community wishing to learn about enhancing patient safety. Team meetings and day-to-day interactions enhanced further liaison and sharing, making patient safety a common and conscious goal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e822-e828
JournalBritish Journal General Practice
Issue number641
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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