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      Understanding organisational culture for healthcare quality improvement

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          Abstract

          Russell Mannion and Huw Davies explore how notions of culture relate to service performance, quality, safety, and improvement

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          Does organisational culture influence health care performance? A review of the evidence.

          To review the evidence for a relationship between organisational culture and health care performance. Qualitative comprehensive review: all empirical studies exploring a relationship between organisational culture (broadly defined) and health care performance (broadly defined) were identified by a comprehensive search of the literature. Study methods and results were analysed qualitatively to provide a narrative review with integrative discussion. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. There was considerable variation in the design, study setting, quality of reporting and aspects of culture/performance considered. Four of the ten studies reviewed in detail claimed to have uncovered supportive evidence for the hypothesis that culture and performance are linked. All the other studies failed to find a link, though none provided strong evidence against the hypothesis. There is some evidence to suggest that organisational culture may be a relevant factor in health care performance, yet articulating the nature of that relationship proves difficult. Simple relationships such as 'strong culture leads to good performance' are not supported by this review. Instead, the evidence suggests a more contingent relationship, in that those aspects of performance valued within different cultures may be enhanced within organisations that exhibit those cultural traits. A striking finding is the difficulty in defining and operationalising both 'culture' and 'performance' as variables that are conceptually and practically distinct. Considerably greater methodological ingenuity will be required to unravel the relationship(s) between organisational culture(s) and performance(s). Current policy prescriptions, which seek service improvements through cultural transformation, are in need of a more secure evidential base.
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            Organisational culture and quality of health care.

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              Culture and behaviour in the English National Health Service: overview of lessons from a large multimethod study

              Background Problems of quality and safety persist in health systems worldwide. We conducted a large research programme to examine culture and behaviour in the English National Health Service (NHS). Methods Mixed-methods study involving collection and triangulation of data from multiple sources, including interviews, surveys, ethnographic case studies, board minutes and publicly available datasets. We narratively synthesised data across the studies to produce a holistic picture and in this paper present a high-level summary. Results We found an almost universal desire to provide the best quality of care. We identified many ‘bright spots’ of excellent caring and practice and high-quality innovation across the NHS, but also considerable inconsistency. Consistent achievement of high-quality care was challenged by unclear goals, overlapping priorities that distracted attention, and compliance-oriented bureaucratised management. The institutional and regulatory environment was populated by multiple external bodies serving different but overlapping functions. Some organisations found it difficult to obtain valid insights into the quality of the care they provided. Poor organisational and information systems sometimes left staff struggling to deliver care effectively and disempowered them from initiating improvement. Good staff support and management were also highly variable, though they were fundamental to culture and were directly related to patient experience, safety and quality of care. Conclusions Our results highlight the importance of clear, challenging goals for high-quality care. Organisations need to put the patient at the centre of all they do, get smart intelligence, focus on improving organisational systems, and nurture caring cultures by ensuring that staff feel valued, respected, engaged and supported.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMJ
                BMJ
                BMJ
                0959-8138
                1756-1833
                November 28 2018
                : k4907
                Article
                10.1136/bmj.k4907
                6260242
                30487286
                © 2018

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