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Int J Qual Health Care. 2013 Sep;25(4):394-402. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzt036. Epub 2013 May 10.

Safety climate and its association with office type and team involvement in primary care.

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  • 1Swiss Patient Safety Foundation. Asylstr. 77. 8032 Zuerich, Switzerland. gehring@patientensicherheit.ch



To assess differences in safety climate perceptions between occupational groups and types of office organization in primary care.


Primary care physicians and nurses working in outpatient offices were surveyed about safety climate. Explorative factor analysis was performed to determine the factorial structure. Differences in mean climate scores between staff groups and types of office were tested. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine predictors for a 'favorable' safety climate.


630 individuals returned the survey (response rate, 50%). Differences between occupational groups were observed in the means of the 'team-based error prevention'-scale (physician 4.0 vs. nurse 3.8, P < 0.001). Medical centers scored higher compared with single-handed offices and joint practices on the 'team-based error prevention'-scale (4.3 vs. 3.8 vs. 3.9, P < 0.001) but less favorable on the 'rules and risks'-scale (3.5 vs. 3.9 vs. 3.7, P < 0.001). Characteristics on the individual and office level predicted favorable 'team-based error prevention'-scores. Physicians (OR = 0.4, P = 0.01) and less experienced staff (OR 0.52, P = 0.04) were less likely to provide favorable scores. Individuals working at medical centers were more likely to provide positive scores compared with single-handed offices (OR 3.33, P = 0.001). The largest positive effect was associated with at least monthly team meetings (OR 6.2, P < 0.001) and participation in quality circles (OR 4.49, P < 0.001).


Results indicate that frequent quality circle participation and team meetings involving all team members are effective ways to strengthen safety climate in terms of team-based strategies and activities in error prevention.


medical errors; patient safety; primary care; safety climate

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