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Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2013 Dec;39(12):553-60.

Case studies of patient safety research classics to build research capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

Author information

  • 1WHO Patient Safety, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2Department of Health Policy and Mangement, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • 3WHO Patient Safety, World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 4Department of Family Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • 5The INCLEN Trust International.
  • 6Harvard medical School, Boston, USA.



Strengthening research capacity is a key priority and rate-limiting step for conducting patient safety research, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, but also in other settings where such research is currently limited. Case studies of classic publications in patient safety research were therefore developed as part of a larger strategy aimed at increasing the knowledge base and building the research capacity required for making health care safer and reducing harm to patients.


A multistep method was used to develop the case studies, which involved developing a theoretical framework for classifying patient safety research articles; purposively selecting articles to illustrate a range of research methods and study designs; and involving the articles' lead authors to provide context, review the summaries, and offer advice to future patient safety researchers.


The series of patient safety research case studies used 17 examples to illustrate how different research methods and study designs can be used to answer different types of research questions across five stages of the research cycle: (1) measuring harm, (2) understanding causes, (3) identifying solutions, (4) evaluating impact, and (5) translating evidence into safer care. No single study design or research method is better in all circumstances. Choosing the most appropriate method and study design depends on the stage in the research cycle, the objectives, the research question, the subject area, the setting, and the resources available.


Beyond serving as didactic tools in assisting future leaders in patient safety research to build up their own competencies, the case studies help to illuminate the burgeoning field of patient safety research as a an important vehicle for reducing patient harm and improving health outcomes worldwide.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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