Talking about quality: exploring how 'quality' is conceptualized in European hospitals and healthcare systems

BMC Health Services Research
Siri WiigNaomi Fulop


Conceptualization of quality of care - in terms of what individuals, groups and organizations include in their meaning of quality, is an unexplored research area. It is important to understand how quality is conceptualised as a means to successfully implement improvement efforts and bridge potential disconnect in language about quality between system levels, professions, and clinical services. The aim is therefore to explore and compare conceptualization of quality among national bodies (macro level), senior hospital managers (meso level), and professional groups within clinical micro systems (micro level) in a cross-national study. This cross-national multi-level case study combines analysis of national policy documents and regulations at the macro level with semi-structured interviews (383) and non-participant observation (803 hours) of key meetings and shadowing of staff at the meso and micro levels in ten purposively sampled European hospitals (England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Norway). Fieldwork at the meso and micro levels was undertaken over a 12-month period (2011-2012) and different types of micro systems were included (maternity, oncology, orthopaedics, elderly care, intensive care, and geriatrics). The ...Continue Reading


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