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Development of a theoretical framework of factors affecting patient safety incident reporting: A theoretical review of the literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Stephanie Archer, Louise Hull, Tayana Soukup , Erik Mayer, Thanos Athanasiou, Nick Sevdalis, Ara Darzi

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBMJ Open
Early online date27 Dec 2017
Accepted/In press2 Aug 2017
E-pub ahead of print27 Dec 2017


King's Authors


OBJECTIVES: The development and implementation of incident reporting systems within healthcare continues to be a fundamental strategy to reduce preventable patient harm and improve the quality and safety of healthcare. We sought to identify factors contributing to patient safety incident reporting. DESIGN: To facilitate improvements in incident reporting, a theoretical framework, encompassing factors that act as barriers and enablers of reporting, was developed. Embase, Ovid MEDLINE(R) and PsycINFO were searched to identify relevant articles published between January 1980 and May 2014. A comprehensive search strategy including MeSH terms and keywords was developed to identify relevant articles. Data were extracted by three independent researchers; to ensure the accuracy of data extraction, all studies eligible for inclusion were rescreened by two reviewers. RESULTS: The literature search identified 3049 potentially eligible articles; of these, 110 articles, including >29 726 participants, met the inclusion criteria. In total, 748 barriers were identified (frequency count) across the 110 articles. In comparison, 372 facilitators to incident reporting and 118 negative cases were identified. The top two barriers cited were fear of adverse consequences (161, representing 21.52% of barriers) and process and systems of reporting (110, representing 14.71% of barriers). In comparison, the top two facilitators were organisational (97, representing 26.08% of facilitators) and process and systems of reporting (75, representing 20.16% of facilitators). CONCLUSION: A wide range of factors contributing to engagement in incident reporting exist. Efforts that address the current tendency to under-report must consider the full range of factors in order to develop interventions as well as a strategic policy approach for improvement.

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