• Commentary
  • Published February 2011

The role of theory in research to develop and evaluate the implementation of patient safety practices.

The first decade of the patient safety movement has seen notable successes, but many highly publicized practices have been less impactful than anticipated. This AHRQ-funded expert panel calls for patient safety researchers to explicitly incorporate theories of individual behavior change and organizational improvement into the planning, implementation, and evaluation of patient safety research. Using established theoretical models has the potential to improve the odds of successful implementation of safety practices and increase the generalizability of successful strategies for other institutions. The importance of behavior change models in implementing checklists was discussed in a recent commentary, and Dr. Brent James—one of the nation's leading physician quality improvement experts—discussed his use of change theories in an AHRQ WebM&M interview.

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