Identifying Continuous Quality Improvement Publications

What Makes an Improvement Intervention 'CQI'?

Published in: BMJ Quality & Safety, v. 20, no. 12, Dec. 2011, p. 1011-1019

Posted on on January 01, 2011

by Sean Michael O'Neill, Susanne Hempel, Yee-Wei Lim, Marjorie Danz, Robbie Foy, Marika Booth, Paul G. Shekelle, Lisa V. Rubenstein

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BACKGROUND: The term continuous quality improvement (CQI) is often used to refer to a method for improving care, but no consensus statement exists on the definition of CQI. Evidence reviews are critical for advancing science, and depend on reliable definitions for article selection. METHODS: As a preliminary step towards improving CQI evidence reviews, this study aimed to use expert panel methods to identify key CQI definitional features and develop and test a screening instrument for reliably identifying articles with the key features. We used a previously published method to identify 106 articles meeting the general definition of a quality improvement intervention (QII) from 9427 electronically identified articles from PubMed. Two raters then applied a six-item CQI screen to the 106 articles. RESULTS: Per cent agreement ranged from 55.7% to 75.5% for the six items, and reviewer-adjusted intra-class correlation ranged from 0.43 to 0.62. 'Feedback of systematically collected data' was the most common feature (64%), followed by being at least 'somewhat' adapted to local conditions (61%), feedback at meetings involving participant leaders (46%), using an iterative development process (40%), being at least 'somewhat' data driven (34%), and using a recognised change method (28%). All six features were present in 14.2% of QII articles. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that CQI features can be extracted from QII articles with reasonable reliability, but only a small proportion of QII articles include all features. Further consensus development is needed to support meaningful use of the term CQI for scientific communication.

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