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1.  Focus groups to explore healthcare professionals’ experiences of care coordination: towards a theoretical framework for the study of care coordination 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:177.
Strategies to improve care coordination between primary and hospital care do not always have the desired results. This is partly due to incomplete understanding of the key concepts of care coordination. An in-depth analysis of existing theoretical frameworks for the study of care coordination identified 14 interrelated key concepts. In another study, these 14 key concepts were further explored in patients’ experiences. Additionally, “patient characteristics” was identified as a new key concept in patients’ experiences and the previously identified key concept “quality of relationship” between healthcare professionals was extended to “quality of relationship” with the patient. Together, these 15 interrelated key concepts resulted in a new theoretical framework. The present study aimed at improving our understanding of the 15 previously identified key concepts and to explore potentially previous unidentified key concepts and the links between these by exploring how healthcare professionals experience care coordination.
A qualitative design was used. Six focus groups were conducted including primary healthcare professionals involved in the care of patients who had breast cancer surgery at three hospitals in Belgium. Data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis.
All 15 previously identified key concepts of care coordination were further explored in healthcare professionals’ experiences. Links between these 15 concepts were identified, including 9 newly identified links.
The concept “external factors” was linked with all 6 concepts relating to (inter)organizational mechanisms; “task characteristics”, “structure”, “knowledge and information technology”, “administrative operational processes”, “cultural factors” and “need for coordination”. Five of these concepts related to 3 concepts of relational coordination; “roles”, “quality of relationship” and “exchange of information”. The concept of “task characteristics” was only linked with “roles” and “exchange of information”. The concept “patient characteristics” related with the concepts “need for coordination” and “patient outcome”. Outcome was influenced by “roles”, “quality of relationship” and “exchange of information”.
External factors and the (inter)organizational mechanism should enhance “roles” and “quality of relationship” between healthcare professionals and with the patient as well as “exchange of information”, and setting and sharing of common “goals” to improve care coordination and quality of care.
PMCID: PMC4319219  PMID: 25539888
Care coordination; Theoretical models (MESH); Qualitative research; Healthcare professionals; Experiences
2.  A Systematic Survey Instrument Translation Process for Multi-Country, Comparative Health Workforce Studies 
As health services research (HSR) expands across the globe, researchers will adopt health services and health worker evaluation instruments developed in one country for use in another. This paper explores the cross-cultural methodological challenges involved in translating HSR in the language and context of different health systems.
To describe the pre-data collection systematic translation process used in a twelve country, eleven language nursing workforce survey.
Design & Settings
We illustrate the potential advantages of Content Validity Indexing (CVI) techniques to validate a nursing workforce survey developed for RN4CAST, a twelve country (Belgium, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), eleven language (with modifications for regional dialects, including Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, and Swedish), comparative nursing workforce study in Europe.
Expert review panels comprised of practicing nurses from twelve European countries who evaluated cross-cultural relevance, including translation, of a nursing workforce survey instrument developed by experts in the field.
The method described in this paper used Content Validity Indexing (CVI) techniques with chance correction and provides researchers with a systematic approach for standardizing language translation processes while simultaneously evaluating the cross-cultural applicability of a survey instrument in the new context.
The cross-cultural evaluation process produced CVI scores for the instrument ranging from .61 to .95. The process successfully identified potentially problematic survey items and errors with translation.
The translation approach described here may help researchers reduce threats to data validity and improve instrument reliability in multinational health services research studies involving comparisons across health systems and language translation.
PMCID: PMC3395768  PMID: 22445444
3.  Evidence-Based Health Care Policy in Reimbursement Decisions: Lessons from a Series of Six Equivocal Case-Studies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78662.
Health care technological evolution through new drugs, implants and other interventions is a key driver of healthcare spending. Policy makers are currently challenged to strengthen the evidence for and cost-effectiveness of reimbursement decisions, while not reducing the capacity for real innovations. This article examines six cases of reimbursement decision making at the national health insurance authority in Belgium, with outcomes that were contested from an evidence-based perspective in scientific or public media.
In depth interviews with key stakeholders based on the adapted framework of Davies allowed us to identify the relative impact of clinical and health economic evidence; experience, expertise & judgment; financial impact & resources; values, ideology & political beliefs; habit & tradition; lobbyists & pressure groups; pragmatics & contingencies; media attention; and adoption from other payers & countries.
Evidence was not the sole criterion on which reimbursement decisions were based. Across six equivocal cases numerous other criteria were perceived to influence reimbursement policy. These included other considerations that stakeholders deemed crucial in this area, such as taking into account the cost to the patient, and managing crisis scenarios. However, negative impacts were also reported, in the form of bypassing regular procedures unnecessarily, dominance of an opinion leader, using information selectively, and influential conflicts of interest.
‘Evidence’ and ‘negotiation’ are both essential inputs of reimbursement policy. Yet, purposely selected equivocal cases in Belgium provide a rich source to learn from and to improve the interaction between both. We formulated policy recommendations to reconcile the impact of all factors identified. A more systematic approach to reimburse new care may be one of many instruments to resolve the budgetary crisis in health care in other countries as well, by separating what is truly innovative and value for money from additional ‘waste’.
PMCID: PMC3813690  PMID: 24205290
4.  Cross-cultural evaluation of the relevance of the HCAHPS survey in five European countries 
To describe the systematic language translation and cross-cultural evaluation process that assessed the relevance of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey in five European countries prior to national data collection efforts.
An approach involving a systematic translation process, expert review by experienced researchers and a review by ‘patient’ experts involving the use of content validity indexing techniques with chance correction.
Five European countries where Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian and Polish are spoken.
‘Patient’ experts who had recently experienced a hospitalization in the participating country.
Main OutcomeMeasure(s)
Content validity indexing with chance correction adjustment providing a quantifiable measure that evaluates the conceptual, contextual, content, semantic and technical equivalence of the instrument in relationship to the patient care experience.
All translations except two received ‘excellent’ ratings and no significant differences existed between scores for languages spoken in more than one country. Patient raters across all countries expressed different concerns about some of the demographic questions and their relevance for evaluating patient satisfaction. Removing demographic questions from the evaluation produced a significant improvement in the scale-level scores (P= .018). The cross-cultural evaluation process suggested that translations and content of the patient satisfaction survey were relevant across countries and languages.
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey is relevant to some European hospital systems and has the potential to produce internationally comparable patient satisfaction scores.
PMCID: PMC3441096  PMID: 22807136
patient satisfaction; measurement; instrument validation; cross-cultural research; health services research; HCAHPS
5.  The Care Process Self-Evaluation Tool: a valid and reliable instrument for measuring care process organization of health care teams 
Patient safety can be increased by improving the organization of care. A tool that evaluates the actual organization of care, as perceived by multidisciplinary teams, is the Care Process Self-Evaluation Tool (CPSET). CPSET was developed in 2007 and includes 29 items in five subscales: (a) patient-focused organization, (b) coordination of the care process, (c) collaboration with primary care, (d) communication with patients and family, and (e) follow-up of the care process. The goal of the present study was to further evaluate the psychometric properties of the CPSET at the team and hospital levels and to compile a cutoff score table.
The psychometric properties of the CPSET were assessed in a multicenter study in Belgium and the Netherlands. In total, 3139 team members from 114 hospitals participated. Psychometric properties were evaluated by using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), Cronbach’s alpha, interclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), Kruskall-Wallis test, and Mann–Whitney test. For the cutoff score table, percentiles were used. Demographic variables were also evaluated.
CFA showed a good model fit: a normed fit index of 0.93, a comparative fit index of 0.94, an adjusted goodness-of-fit index of 0.87, and a root mean square error of approximation of 0.06. Cronbach’s alpha values were between 0.869 and 0.950. The team-level ICCs varied between 0.127 and 0.232 and were higher than those at the hospital level (0.071-0.151). Male team members scored significantly higher than females on 2 of the 5 subscales and on the overall CPSET. There were also significant differences among age groups. Medical doctors scored significantly higher on 4 of the 5 subscales and on the overall CPSET. Coordinators of care processes scored significantly lower on 2 of the 5 subscales and on the overall CPSET. Cutoff scores for all subscales and the overall CPSET were calculated.
The CPSET is a valid and reliable instrument for health care teams to measure the extent care processes are organized. The cutoff table permits teams to compare how they perceive the organization of their care process relative to other teams.
PMCID: PMC3751913  PMID: 23958206
Psychometric properties; Care process; Organization of care; Validity; Reliability; Health care teams; CPSET; Multidisciplinary teams; Multicenter study
6.  Care pathways across the primary-hospital care continuum: using the multi-level framework in explaining care coordination 
Care pathways are widely used in hospitals for a structured and detailed planning of the care process. There is a growing interest in extending care pathways into primary care to improve quality of care by increasing care coordination. Evidence is sparse about the relationship between care pathways and care coordination.
The multi-level framework explores care coordination across organizations and states that (inter)organizational mechanisms have an effect on the relationships between healthcare professionals, resulting in quality and efficiency of care.
The aim of this study was to assess the extent to which care pathways support or create elements of the multi-level framework necessary to improve care coordination across the primary - hospital care continuum.
This study is an in-depth analysis of five existing local community projects located in four different regions in Flanders (Belgium) to determine whether the available empirical evidence supported or refuted the theoretical expectations from the multi-level framework. Data were gathered using mixed methods, including structured face-to-face interviews, participant observations, documentation and a focus group. Multiple cases were analyzed performing a cross case synthesis to strengthen the results.
The development of a care pathway across the primary-hospital care continuum, supported by a step-by-step scenario, led to the use of existing and newly constructed structures, data monitoring and the development of information tools. The construction and use of these inter-organizational mechanisms had a positive effect on exchanging information, formulating and sharing goals, defining and knowing each other’s roles, expectations and competences and building qualitative relationships.
Care pathways across the primary-hospital care continuum enhance the components of care coordination.
PMCID: PMC3750930  PMID: 23919518
Critical pathways (mesh); Care pathways; Multi-level framework; Coordination; Primary health care (mesh); Hospitals (mesh); Quality of care; Multiple case study
7.  The Arabic version of the hospital survey on patient safety culture: a psychometric evaluation in a Palestinian sample 
A growing global interest in patient safety culture has increased the development of validated instruments to asses this phenomenon. The aim of this study is to investigate the psychometric properties of the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture (HSOPSC) and its appropriateness for Arab hospitals.
The 7-step guideline of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was used to translate and validate the HSOPSC. A panel of experts evaluated the face and content validity indexing of the Arabic version. Data were collected from 13 Palestinian hospitals including 2022 healthcare professionals who had direct or indirect interaction with patients, hospital supervisors, managers and administrators. Descriptive statistics and psychometric evaluation (a split-half validation technique) were then used to test and strengthen the validity and reliability of the instrument.
With respect to face and content validity, the CVI analysis showed excellent results for the Arab context (CVI = 0.96). As to construct validity, the 12 original dimensions could not be applied to the Palestinian data. Furthermore, three of the 12 original dimensions were not reliable (α <0.6). The split-half technique resulted in an optimal 11-factor model.
Our study is the first study in the Arab world to provide an evaluation of the HSOPSC using Arabic data from Palestine. The Arabic translation of the HSOPSC comprises an 11-factor structure showing good validity and acceptable reliability. Despite the similarity between the Arab factor structure of the HSOPSC and that of the original one, and taking into account that our version may be applied in Arabic hospitals, there is a need for caution in comparing HSOPSC data between countries.
PMCID: PMC3750401  PMID: 23705887
8.  An in-depth analysis of theoretical frameworks for the study of care coordination1 
Complex chronic conditions often require long-term care from various healthcare professionals. Thus, maintaining quality care requires care coordination. Concepts for the study of care coordination require clarification to develop, study and evaluate coordination strategies. In 2007, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defined care coordination and proposed five theoretical frameworks for exploring care coordination. This study aimed to update current theoretical frameworks and clarify key concepts related to care coordination.
We performed a literature review to update existing theoretical frameworks. An in-depth analysis of these theoretical frameworks was conducted to formulate key concepts related to care coordination.
Our literature review found seven previously unidentified theoretical frameworks for studying care coordination. The in-depth analysis identified fourteen key concepts that the theoretical frameworks addressed. These were ‘external factors’, ‘structure’, ‘tasks characteristics’, ‘cultural factors’, ‘knowledge and technology’, ‘need for coordination’, ‘administrative operational processes’, ‘exchange of information’, ‘goals’, ‘roles’, ‘quality of relationship’, ‘patient outcome’, ‘team outcome’, and ‘(inter)organizational outcome’.
These 14 interrelated key concepts provide a base to develop or choose a framework for studying care coordination. The relational coordination theory and the multi-level framework are interesting as these are the most comprehensive.
PMCID: PMC3718267  PMID: 23882171
care coordination; organizational models (Mesh); theoretical models (Mesh); review (Mesh); coordination strategies
9.  Eight-step method to build the clinical content of an evidence-based care pathway: the case for COPD exacerbation 
Trials  2012;13:229.
Optimization of the clinical care process by integration of evidence-based knowledge is one of the active components in care pathways. When studying the impact of a care pathway by using a cluster-randomized design, standardization of the care pathway intervention is crucial. This methodology paper describes the development of the clinical content of an evidence-based care pathway for in-hospital management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation in the context of a cluster-randomized controlled trial (cRCT) on care pathway effectiveness.
The clinical content of a care pathway for COPD exacerbation was developed based on recognized process design and guideline development methods. Subsequently, based on the COPD case study, a generalized eight-step method was designed to support the development of the clinical content of an evidence-based care pathway.
A set of 38 evidence-based key interventions and a set of 24 process and 15 outcome indicators were developed in eight different steps. Nine Belgian multidisciplinary teams piloted both the set of key interventions and indicators. The key intervention set was judged by the teams as being valid and clinically applicable. In addition, the pilot study showed that the indicators were feasible for the involved clinicians and patients.
The set of 38 key interventions and the set of process and outcome indicators were found to be appropriate for the development and standardization of the clinical content of the COPD care pathway in the context of a cRCT on pathway effectiveness. The developed eight-step method may facilitate multidisciplinary teams caring for other patient populations in designing the clinical content of their future care pathways.
PMCID: PMC3543249  PMID: 23190552
Critical pathway; Evidence based medicine; Standardization; Cluster randomized trial; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
10.  Do knowledge, knowledge sources and reasoning skills affect the accuracy of nursing diagnoses? a randomised study 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:11.
This paper reports a study about the effect of knowledge sources, such as handbooks, an assessment format and a predefined record structure for diagnostic documentation, as well as the influence of knowledge, disposition toward critical thinking and reasoning skills, on the accuracy of nursing diagnoses.
Knowledge sources can support nurses in deriving diagnoses. A nurse’s disposition toward critical thinking and reasoning skills is also thought to influence the accuracy of his or her nursing diagnoses.
A randomised factorial design was used in 2008–2009 to determine the effect of knowledge sources. We used the following instruments to assess the influence of ready knowledge, disposition, and reasoning skills on the accuracy of diagnoses: (1) a knowledge inventory, (2) the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory, and (3) the Health Science Reasoning Test. Nurses (n = 249) were randomly assigned to one of four factorial groups, and were instructed to derive diagnoses based on an assessment interview with a simulated patient/actor.
The use of a predefined record structure resulted in a significantly higher accuracy of nursing diagnoses. A regression analysis reveals that almost half of the variance in the accuracy of diagnoses is explained by the use of a predefined record structure, a nurse’s age and the reasoning skills of `deduction’ and `analysis’.
Improving nurses’ dispositions toward critical thinking and reasoning skills, and the use of a predefined record structure, improves accuracy of nursing diagnoses.
PMCID: PMC3447681  PMID: 22852577
Clinical practice; Critical reasoning; Knowledge; Nursing diagnoses; RCT
11.  A survey of nursing documentation, terminologies and standards in European countries 
A survey was carried out to describe the current state of art in the use of nursing documentation, terminologies, standards and education. Key informants in European countries were targeted by the Association for Common European Nursing Diagnoses, Interventions and Outcomes (ACENDIO). Replies were received from key informants in 20 European countries. Results show that the nursing process was most often used to structure nursing documentation. Many standardized nursing terminologies were used in Europe with NANDA, NIC, NOC and ICF most frequently used. In 70% of the countries minimum requirements were available for electronic health records (EHR), but nursing not addressed specifically. Standards in use for nursing terminologies and information systems were lacking. The results should be a major concern to the nursing community in Europe. As a European platform, ACENDIO can play a role in enhancing standardization activities, and should develop its role accordingly.
PMCID: PMC3799179  PMID: 24199130
12.  The impact of care pathways for patients with proximal femur fracture: rationale and design of a cluster-randomized controlled trial 
Proximal femur fracture (PFF) is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. The European Quality of Care Pathway (EQCP) study on PFF (NCT00962910) was designed to determine how care pathways (CP) for hospital treatment of PFF affect consistency of care, adherence to evidence-based key interventions, and clinical outcome.
An international cluster-randomized controlled trial (cRCT) will be performed in Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. Based on power analyses, a sample of 44 hospital teams and 437 patients per arm will be included in the study. In the control arm, usual care will be provided. Experimental teams will implement a care pathway which will include three active components: a formative evaluation of quality and organization of the care setting, a set of evidence-based key interventions, and support of the development and implementation of the CP. Main outcome will be the six-month mortality rate.
The EQCP study constitutes the first international cRCT on care pathways. The EQCP project was designed as both a research and a quality improvement project and will provide a real-world framework for process evaluation to improve our understanding of why and when CP can really work.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3528433  PMID: 22640531
13.  The European quality of care pathways (EQCP) study on the impact of care pathways on interprofessional teamwork in an acute hospital setting: study protocol: for a cluster randomised controlled trial and evaluation of implementation processes 
Although care pathways are often said to promote teamwork, high-level evidence that supports this statement is lacking. Furthermore, knowledge on conditions and facilitators for successful pathway implementation is scarce. The objective of the European Quality of Care Pathway (EQCP) study is therefore to study the impact of care pathways on interprofessional teamwork and to build up understanding on the implementation process.
An international post-test-only cluster Randomised Controlled Trial (cRCT), combined with process evaluations, will be performed in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal. Teams caring for proximal femur fracture (PFF) patients and patients hospitalized with an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be randomised into an intervention and control group. The intervention group will implement a care pathway for PFF or COPD containing three active components: a formative evaluation of the actual teams’ performance, a set of evidence-based key interventions, and a training in care pathway-development. The control group will provide usual care. A set of team input, process and output indicators will be used as effect measures. The main outcome indicator will be relational coordination. Next to these, process measures during and after pathway development will be used to evaluate the implementation processes. In total, 132 teams have agreed to participate, of which 68 were randomly assigned to the intervention group and 64 to the control group. Based on power analysis, a sample of 475 team members per arm is required. To analyze results, multilevel analysis will be performed.
Results from our study will enhance understanding on the active components of care pathways. Through this, preferred implementation strategies can be defined.
Trail registration
PMCID: PMC3444891  PMID: 22607698
Study protocol; Care pathways; Interprofessional teamwork; Cluster randomised controlled trial; Process evaluations
14.  Nurse forecasting in Europe (RN4CAST): Rationale, design and methodology 
BMC Nursing  2011;10:6.
Current human resources planning models in nursing are unreliable and ineffective as they consider volumes, but ignore effects on quality in patient care. The project RN4CAST aims innovative forecasting methods by addressing not only volumes, but quality of nursing staff as well as quality of patient care.
A multi-country, multilevel cross-sectional design is used to obtain important unmeasured factors in forecasting models including how features of hospital work environments impact on nurse recruitment, retention and patient outcomes. In each of the 12 participating European countries, at least 30 general acute hospitals were sampled. Data are gathered via four data sources (nurse, patient and organizational surveys and via routinely collected hospital discharge data). All staff nurses of a random selection of medical and surgical units (at least 2 per hospital) were surveyed. The nurse survey has the purpose to measure the experiences of nurses on their job (e.g. job satisfaction, burnout) as well as to allow the creation of aggregated hospital level measures of staffing and working conditions. The patient survey is organized in a sub-sample of countries and hospitals using a one-day census approach to measure the patient experiences with medical and nursing care. In addition to conducting a patient survey, hospital discharge abstract datasets will be used to calculate additional patient outcomes like in-hospital mortality and failure-to-rescue. Via the organizational survey, information about the organizational profile (e.g. bed size, types of technology available, teaching status) is collected to control the analyses for institutional differences.
This information will be linked via common identifiers and the relationships between different aspects of the nursing work environment and patient and nurse outcomes will be studied by using multilevel regression type analyses. These results will be used to simulate the impact of changing different aspects of the nursing work environment on quality of care and satisfaction of the nursing workforce.
RN4CAST is one of the largest nurse workforce studies ever conducted in Europe, will add to accuracy of forecasting models and generate new approaches to more effective management of nursing resources in Europe.
PMCID: PMC3108324  PMID: 21501487
15.  The impact of care pathways for exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: rationale and design of a cluster randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2010;11:111.
Hospital treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) frequently does not follow published evidences. This lack of adherence can contribute to the high morbidity, mortality and readmissions rates. The European Quality of Care Pathway (EQCP) study on acute exacerbations of COPD (NTC00962468) is undertaken to determine how care pathways (CP) as complex intervention for hospital treatment of COPD affects care variability, adherence to evidence based key interventions and clinical outcomes.
An international cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (cRCT) will be performed in Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. Based on the power analysis, a sample of 40 hospital teams and 398 patients will be included in the study. In the control arm of the study, usual care will be provided. The experimental teams will implement a CP as complex intervention which will include three active components: a formative evaluation of the quality and organization of care, a set of evidence based key interventions, and support on the development and implementation of the CP. The main outcome will be six-month readmission rate. As a secondary endpoint a set of clinical outcome and performance indicators (including care process evaluation and team functioning indicators) will be measured in both groups.
The EQCP study is the first international cRCT on care pathways. The design of the EQCP project is both a research study and a quality improvement project and will include a realistic evaluation framework including process analysis to further understand why and when CP can really work.
Trial Registration number
PMCID: PMC3001422  PMID: 21092098
16.  Systematic review: Effects, design choices, and context of pay-for-performance in health care 
Pay-for-performance (P4P) is one of the primary tools used to support healthcare delivery reform. Substantial heterogeneity exists in the development and implementation of P4P in health care and its effects. This paper summarizes evidence, obtained from studies published between January 1990 and July 2009, concerning P4P effects, as well as evidence on the impact of design choices and contextual mediators on these effects. Effect domains include clinical effectiveness, access and equity, coordination and continuity, patient-centeredness, and cost-effectiveness.
The systematic review made use of electronic database searching, reference screening, forward citation tracking and expert consultation. The following databases were searched: Cochrane Library, EconLit, Embase, Medline, PsychINFO, and Web of Science. Studies that evaluate P4P effects in primary care or acute hospital care medicine were included. Papers concerning other target groups or settings, having no empirical evaluation design or not complying with the P4P definition were excluded. According to study design nine validated quality appraisal tools and reporting statements were applied. Data were extracted and summarized into evidence tables independently by two reviewers.
One hundred twenty-eight evaluation studies provide a large body of evidence -to be interpreted with caution- concerning the effects of P4P on clinical effectiveness and equity of care. However, less evidence on the impact on coordination, continuity, patient-centeredness and cost-effectiveness was found. P4P effects can be judged to be encouraging or disappointing, depending on the primary mission of the P4P program: supporting minimal quality standards and/or boosting quality improvement. Moreover, the effects of P4P interventions varied according to design choices and characteristics of the context in which it was introduced.
Future P4P programs should (1) select and define P4P targets on the basis of baseline room for improvement, (2) make use of process and (intermediary) outcome indicators as target measures, (3) involve stakeholders and communicate information about the programs thoroughly and directly, (4) implement a uniform P4P design across payers, (5) focus on both quality improvement and achievement, and (6) distribute incentives to the individual and/or team level.
P4P programs result in the full spectrum of possible effects for specific targets, from absent or negligible to strongly beneficial. Based on the evidence the review has provided further indications on how effect findings are likely to relate to P4P design choices and context. The provided best practice hypotheses should be tested in future research.
PMCID: PMC2936378  PMID: 20731816
17.  Nurse staffing and patient outcomes in Belgian acute hospitals 
Studies have linked nurse staffing levels (number and skill mix) to several nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. However, evidence from European countries has been limited.
This study examines the association between nurse staffing levels (i.e. acuity-adjusted Nursing Hours per Patient Day, the proportion of registered nurses with a Bachelor’s degree) and 10 different patient outcomes potentially sensitive to nursing care.
Cross-sectional analyses of linked data from the Belgian Nursing Minimum Dataset (general acute care and intensive care nursing units: n = 1403) and Belgian Hospital Discharge Dataset (general, orthopedic and vascular surgery patients: n = 260,923) of the year 2003 from all acute hospitals (n = 115).
Logistic regression analyses, estimated by using a Generalized Estimation Equation Model, were used to study the association between nurse staffing and patient outcomes.
The mean acuity-adjusted Nursing Hours per Patient Day in Belgian hospitals was 2.62 (S.D. = 0.29). The variability in patient outcome rates between hospitals is considerable. The inter-quartile ranges for the 10 patient outcomes go from 0.35 for Deep Venous Thrombosis to 3.77 for failure-to-rescue. No significant association was found between the acuity-adjusted Nursing Hours per Patient Day, proportion of registered nurses with a Bachelor’s degree and the selected patient outcomes.
The absence of associations between hospital-level nurse staffing measures and patient outcomes should not be inferred as implying that nurse staffing does not have an impact on patient outcomes in Belgian hospitals. To better understand the dynamics of the nurse staffing and patient outcomes relationship in acute hospitals, further analyses (i.e. nursing unit level analyses) of these and other outcomes are recommended, in addition to inclusion of other study variables, including data about nursing practice environments in hospitals.
PMCID: PMC2700208  PMID: 18656875
Nurse staffing; Patient outcomes; Intensity of nursing care
18.  The relationship between inpatient cardiac surgery mortality and nurse numbers and educational level: Analysis of administrative data 
In most multicenter studies that examine the relationship between nurse staffing and patient safety, nurse-staffing levels are measured per hospital. This can obscure relationships between staffing and outcomes at the unit level and lead to invalid inferences.
In the present study, we examined the association between nurse-staffing levels in nursing units that treat postoperative cardiac surgery patients and the in-hospital mortality of these patients.
We illustrated our approach by using administrative databases (Year 2003) representing all Belgian cardiac centers (n = 28), which included data from 58 intensive care and 75 general nursing units and 9054 patients.
We used multilevel logistic regression models and controlled for differences in patient characteristics, nursing care intensity, and cardiac procedural volume.
Increased nurse staffing in postoperative general nursing units was significantly associated with decreased mortality. Nurse staffing in postoperative intensive care units was not significantly associated with in-hospital mortality possibly due to lack of variation in ICU staffing across hospitals.
This study, together with the international body of evidence, suggests that nurse staffing is one of several variables influencing patient safety. These findings further suggest the need to study the impact of nurse-staffing levels on in-hospital mortality using nursing-unit-level specific data.
PMCID: PMC2856596  PMID: 19201407
Nurse staffing; Patient safety; In-hospital mortality; Cardiac surgery
19.  Predictive Validity of the International Hospital Outcomes Study Questionnaire: An RN4CAST Pilot Study 
To study the predictive validity of the instrument used in the International Hospital Outcomes Study (IHOS) for an upcoming EU-funded project (RN4CAST), which will indicate the effect of the nursing work environment and nursing staff deployment on nurse recruitment, retention, and productivity; and on patient outcomes in 11 European countries.
Cross-sectional analysis of data from 179 nurses (75% response rate) who completed an IHOS-like nurse survey questionnaire, which included the Revised Nursing Work Index and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The nurses worked in four Belgian acute-care hospitals. Logistic regression modeling was performed to explore associations between nurse-perceived outcomes and nursing work environment factors that were checked with confirmatory factor analysis.
We confirmed associations between nurse-perceived outcomes and the following nursing work environment factors: nurse-physician relationship; staffing, and resource adequacy; and nurse manager ability, leadership, and support of nurses. A 1-point increase in the rating of the factor nurse-physician relationship was significantly associated with a 2.5-fold (OR, 2.53; 95% CI, 1.29–4.93; p<0.01) increase in the odds of reporting high job satisfaction and with a fourfold (OR, 4.02; 95% CI, 1.85–8.70; p<0.001) increase in the odds of reporting excellent nurse-perceived quality of care. A 1-point increase in the rating of the factor staffing and resource adequacy was significantly associated with an approximate threefold (OR, 2.81; 95% CI, 1.38–5.72; p<0.01) increase in the odds of reporting high job satisfaction and with a fourfold (OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.12–0.47; p<0.001) decrease in the odds of reporting burnout.
The predictive validity of the IHOS instrument was supported by the confirmation of key factors, which were previously identified by previous international research, and by the finding of similar associations between these factors and nurse-perceived outcomes. The IHOS questionnaire that will be used in the RN4CAST project is robust and psychometrically sound.
Clinical Relevance
The RN4CAST consortium, consisting of members from 15 countries, will use a similar instrument to that used in the International Hospital Outcomes study to measure the nursing work environment. This information will be linked with patients’ experiences and data extracted from routinely collected hospital discharge data. RN4CAST will show the important role of nursing staff in providing high quality care and allow refinement of current forecasting models for personnel planning in nursing.
PMCID: PMC2739088  PMID: 19538705
Work environment-working conditions; quality improvement-quality of care-quality of services; health policy; survey methodology-data collection
20.  Patient safety, satisfaction, and quality of hospital care: cross sectional surveys of nurses and patients in 12 countries in Europe and the United States 
Objective To determine whether hospitals with a good organisation of care (such as improved nurse staffing and work environments) can affect patient care and nurse workforce stability in European countries.
Design Cross sectional surveys of patients and nurses.
Setting Nurses were surveyed in general acute care hospitals (488 in 12 European countries; 617 in the United States); patients were surveyed in 210 European hospitals and 430 US hospitals.
Participants 33 659 nurses and 11 318 patients in Europe; 27 509 nurses and more than 120 000 patients in the US.
Main outcome measures Nurse outcomes (hospital staffing, work environments, burnout, dissatisfaction, intention to leave job in the next year, patient safety, quality of care), patient outcomes (satisfaction overall and with nursing care, willingness to recommend hospitals).
Results The percentage of nurses reporting poor or fair quality of patient care varied substantially by country (from 11% (Ireland) to 47% (Greece)), as did rates for nurses who gave their hospital a poor or failing safety grade (4% (Switzerland) to 18% (Poland)). We found high rates of nurse burnout (10% (Netherlands) to 78% (Greece)), job dissatisfaction (11% (Netherlands) to 56% (Greece)), and intention to leave (14% (US) to 49% (Finland, Greece)). Patients’ high ratings of their hospitals also varied considerably (35% (Spain) to 61% (Finland, Ireland)), as did rates of patients willing to recommend their hospital (53% (Greece) to 78% (Switzerland)). Improved work environments and reduced ratios of patients to nurses were associated with increased care quality and patient satisfaction. In European hospitals, after adjusting for hospital and nurse characteristics, nurses with better work environments were half as likely to report poor or fair care quality (adjusted odds ratio 0.56, 95% confidence interval 0.51 to 0.61) and give their hospitals poor or failing grades on patient safety (0.50, 0.44 to 0.56). Each additional patient per nurse increased the odds of nurses reporting poor or fair quality care (1.11, 1.07 to 1.15) and poor or failing safety grades (1.10, 1.05 to 1.16). Patients in hospitals with better work environments were more likely to rate their hospital highly (1.16, 1.03 to 1.32) and recommend their hospitals (1.20, 1.05 to 1.37), whereas those with higher ratios of patients to nurses were less likely to rate them highly (0.94, 0.91 to 0.97) or recommend them (0.95, 0.91 to 0.98). Results were similar in the US. Nurses and patients agreed on which hospitals provided good care and could be recommended.
Conclusions Deficits in hospital care quality were common in all countries. Improvement of hospital work environments might be a relatively low cost strategy to improve safety and quality in hospital care and to increase patient satisfaction.
PMCID: PMC3308724  PMID: 22434089

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