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Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes. 2014;108(10):576-86. doi: 10.1016/j.zefq.2014.10.013. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

[Effectiveness of quality assurance programmes for inpatient care in Germany: a literature review].

[Article in German]

Author information

Ärztliches Zentrum für Qualität in der Medizin (ÄZQ), Berlin, Deutschland. Electronic address:
Institut für Gesundheitsökonomie und Klinische Epidemiologie der Uniklinik Köln (IGKE), Köln, Deutschland.



Over the past decades, a large number of measures for quality management and quality assurance (QM/QA) of healthcare were established in the German healthcare system. Considering the resources required, it has been repeatedly demanded that such quality programmes be checked for their effectiveness. In this context, the present paper describes the results of a systematic literature review to evaluate German QM/QA programmes in the inpatient sector.


A systematic literature search was conducted in the electronic databases Medline, Cochrane Library and topic-related institution websites. In addition, hand searches were conducted, and the search engine Google Scholar was used. For Germany, no time limit was placed on the literature search. Evaluation studies were only selected if they included a comparison group without or at the beginning of a QM/QA programme and measured the effects on outcomes, process or structure of inpatient care. The methodological quality of the eligible studies was assessed and summarised.


Out of 3,065 hits, 18 publications were included in the literature review. In Germany, no causal relationships between QM/QA programmes and a relevant benefit for improved quality of care for patients in the hospital sector could be detected in any study. Results were inconsistent or insufficiently reliable without demonstrating a clear positive or negative impact of the analysed programmes on the quality of care. Overall, the quality of the included studies was low.


No acceptable scientific studies for the German healthcare system could be detected that provided proof for a patient-related effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the established quality programmes. Due to the insufficient evidence and despite the challenges faced when conducting convincing evaluation studies in the field of QM/QA, established methods of the evaluation research should be applied and extended.


Evaluation; Krankenhaus; Quality assurance programme; Qualitätsmanagementprogramm; Qualitätssicherungsprogramm; Qualitätsverbesserung; Wirksamkeit; effectiveness; efficacy; evaluation; hospital; quality improvement; quality management programme

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