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Am J Med Qual. 2013 Jul-Aug;28(4):345-51. doi: 10.1177/1062860612461826. Epub 2012 Oct 6.

Using qualitative measures to improve quality in radiation oncology.

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Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 111 South 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


This article introduces the use of qualitative research techniques in the field of radiation oncology with respect to quality improvement initiatives. The qualitative techniques used in this research include field observations and in-depth, one-on-one interviews with radiation therapy technologists. The observations were conducted in a fast-paced academic institution. This high-pressure, high-throughput environment provided an interesting location for observation of behaviors, workflows, and areas of improvement. Qualitative research is a useful platform for formulating questions and addressing the environment on a larger scale. The information resulting from this research led to immediate changes that improved the efficiency and effectiveness of care provided to patients and identified future initiatives to improve patient safety and the timeliness of care provided. Overall, qualitative research proved to be an exceptional resource for identifying and evaluating a clinical department and demonstrated the usefulness of this method of research for future work.


qualitative measures; quality; radiation oncology; safety

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