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Accelerating What Works: Using Qualitative Research Methods in Developing a Change Package for a Learning Collaborative

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Background: Learning (quality improvement) collaboratives are effective vehicles for driving coordinated organizational improvements. A central element of a learning collaborative is the change package—a catalogue of strategies, change concepts, and action steps that guide participants in their improvement efforts. Despite a vast literature describing learning collaboratives, little to no information is available on how the guiding strategies, change concepts, and action items are identified and developed to a replicable and actionable format that can be used to make measurable improvements within participating organizations.

Methods: The process for developing the change package for the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative entailed environmental scan and identification of leading practices, case studies, interim debriefing meetings, data synthesis, and a technical expert panel meeting. Data synthesis involved end-of-day debriefings, systematic qualitative analyses, and the use of grounded theory and inductive data analysis techniques. This approach allowed systematic identification of innovative patient safety and clinical pharmacy practices that could be adopted in diverse environments. A case study approach enabled the research team to study practices in their natural environments. Use of grounded theory and inductive data analysis techniques enabled identification of strategies, change concepts, and actionable items that might not have been captured using different approaches.

Discussion: Use of systematic processes and qualitative methods in identification and translation of innovative practices can greatly accelerate the diffusion of innovations and practice improvements. This approach is effective whether or not an individual organization is part of a learning collaborative.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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