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Running a hospital patient safety campaign: a qualitative study

Piotr Ozieranski (Department of Health Sciences, University of Bath, Bath, UK)
Victoria Robins (Renal Medicine, St. James University Hospital, Leeds, UK)
Joel Minion (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Janet Willars (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
John Wright (Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford, UK)
Simon Weaver (Department of Sociology and Communications, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)
Graham P Martin (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Mary Dixon Woods (Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 18 August 2014




Research on patient safety campaigns has mostly concentrated on large-scale multi-organisation efforts, yet locally led improvement is increasingly promoted. The purpose of this paper is to characterise the design and implementation of an internal patient safety campaign at a large acute National Health Service hospital trust with a view to understanding how to optimise such campaigns.


The authors conducted a qualitative study of a campaign that sought to achieve 12 patient safety goals. The authors interviewed 19 managers and 45 frontline staff, supplemented by 56 hours of non-participant observation. Data analysis was based on the constant comparative method.


The campaign was motivated by senior managers’ commitment to patient safety improvement, a series of serious untoward incidents, and a history of campaign-style initiatives at the trust. While the campaign succeeded in generating enthusiasm and focus among managers and some frontline staff, it encountered three challenges. First, though many staff at the sharp end were aware of the campaign, their knowledge, and acceptance of its content, rationale, and relevance for distinct clinical areas were variable. Second, the mechanisms of change, albeit effective in creating focus, may have been too limited. Third, many saw the tempo of the campaign as too rapid. Overall, the campaign enjoyed some success in raising the profile of patient safety. However, its ability to promote change was mixed, and progress was difficult to evidence because of lack of reliable measurement.


The study shows that single-organisation campaigns may help in raising the profile of patient safety. The authors offer important lessons for the successful running of such campaigns.



No authors have a conflict of interest to declare. Funding for this project was received from the Department of Health Policy Research programme as part of a wider programme of research on behavioural and cultural change to support quality and safety in the NHS. The authors thank colleagues on this programme. The authors are especially grateful to Professor Michael West and Professor Lorna McKee for their very useful feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The authors thank the staff at the hospital where this study was conducted for their participation in the project. Thanks to Ichklaq Din and Shoba Dawson for their help in conducting some of the interviews, and to Gerry Armitage for advice on analysis. Write up of this paper was supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator award (MDW) WT097899.


Ozieranski, P., Robins, V., Minion, J., Willars, J., Wright, J., Weaver, S., Martin, G.P. and Dixon Woods, M. (2014), "Running a hospital patient safety campaign: a qualitative study", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 562-575.



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