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Ann Oncol. 2011 Feb;22(2):424-30. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq346. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Barriers and facilitators to chemotherapy patients' engagement in medical error prevention.

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  • 1Swiss Patient Safety Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland.



Medical errors are a serious threat to chemotherapy patients. Patients can make contributions to safety but little is known about the acceptability of error-preventing behaviors and its predictors.


A cross-sectional survey study among chemotherapy patients treated at the oncology/hematology unit of a regional hospital was conducted. Patients were presented vignettes of errors and unsafe acts and responded to measures of attitudes, behavioral control, norms, barriers, and anticipated reaction.


A total of 479 patients completed the survey (52% response rate). Patients reported a high level of anticipated activity but intentions to engage for safety varied considerably between the hypothetical scenarios (range: 57%-96%, χ(2) P < 0.001). Health, knowledge and staff time pressure were perceived as most important barriers. Instrumental [odds ratio (OR) = 1.3, P = 0.046] and experiential attitudes (OR = 1.4, P < 0.001), expectations attributed to clinical staff (OR = 1.2, P = 0.024) and behavioral control (OR = 1.8, P < 0.001) were predictors for patients' behaviors.


Patients are affirmative toward engaging for safety but perceive considerable barriers. Intentions to engage in error prevention vary by clinical context and are strongly influenced by attitudes, normative and control beliefs. To successfully involve patients in medical error, prevention clinicians need to address their patients' beliefs and reduce barriers through education.

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