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Qual Saf Health Care. 2005 Dec;14(6):438-42.

Hospital quality improvement in context: a multilevel analysis of staff job evaluations.

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  • 1Norwegian Health Services Research Centre, Oslo, Norway.



To investigate how much of the variance in data on nurse evaluation of different aspects of hospital work can be attributed to individual, ward, department and hospital levels, and to discuss the implication of the findings on quality improvement strategies.


National survey data of work experiences were collected from hospital nurses working at 124 hospital wards in 36 departments in 15 hospitals across Norway during the autumn of 1998. The multilevel structure of the variation of nine indices of job satisfaction was explored by fitting four-level random intercept models (nurse, ward, department and hospital).


A total of 2606 nurses (66%) responded. The indices showed varying clustering to organizational units. Intraclass correlations (ICCs) varied from 0.05 to 0.38, representing considerable higher level variation. The ward level was the dominating level for the clustering of nurses' job aspect evaluations.


Multilevel modelling of staff work experiences may identify which improvement goals can be addressed at which organizational level. Improvement efforts should be directed specifically towards each aspect of work and at its most relevant organizational level. Strategies aimed at the micro-organizational level (ward management) rather than the individual level or the macro level (hospital top management) might prove worthwhile.

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