Understanding culture and culture management in the English NHS: a comparison of professional and patient perspectives

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Rationale and objectives  The growing interest in patient-focused health care in the National Health System (NHS), especially in the wake of high-profile failures in clinical practice, has underlined the need to involve patients in the design and evaluation of organizational change management programmes at the local level. This includes an evaluation of the relevance of culture and how culture might be assessed and managed in the delivery of high-quality and safe care. The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast the perspectives of health care professionals and patient representatives on purposeful attempts to manage culture change in the English NHS. Methods  We used the mixed approach, but with more quantitative than qualitative data. A postal questionnaire survey of clinical governance leads and patient representatives from 276 NHS trusts was followed up with a focus group discussion of eight of the survey participants and semi-structured interviews with 18, including health care professionals and patient representatives from various organizations. We used spss to analyse the survey data and Atlas.ti to analyse the qualitative data. Results and conclusions  Both clinical governance leads and patient representatives considered culture management and change to be integral to quality and safety improvement efforts. However, clinical governance leads were more positive than patient representatives about anticipated results from ongoing efforts to manage culture change at the local level. Further, in spite of general agreement on various attributes for culture assessment efforts, there was a striking difference in the level of importance respondents attached to blame free (more important to clinical governance managers) and customization (more important to patient representatives).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011