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Quality improvement studies in nursing homes: a scoping review.

Toles M, Colón-Emeric C, Moreton E, Frey L, Leeman J. Quality improvement studies in nursing homes: a scoping review. BMC health services research. 2021 Aug 12; 21(1):803.

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BACKGROUND: Quality improvement (QI) is used in nursing homes (NH) to implement and sustain improvements in patient outcomes. Little is known about how QI strategies are used in NHs. This lack of information is a barrier to replicating successful strategies. Guided by the Framework for Implementation Research, the purpose of this study was to map-out the use, evaluation, and reporting of QI strategies in NHs. METHODS: This scoping review was completed to identify reports published between July 2003 through February 2019. Two reviewers screened articles and included those with (1) the term "quality improvement" to describe their methods, or reported use of a QI model (e.g., Six Sigma) or strategy (e.g., process mapping) (2), findings related to impact on service and/or resident outcomes, and (3) two or more NHs included. Reviewers extracted data on study design, setting, population, problem, solution to address problem, QI strategies, and outcomes (implementation, service, and resident). Vote counting and narrative synthesis were used to describe the use of QI strategies, implementation outcomes, and service and/or resident outcomes. RESULTS: Of 2302 articles identified, the full text of 77 articles reporting on 59 studies were included. Studies focused on 23 clinical problems, most commonly pressure ulcers, falls, and pain. Studies used an average of 6 to 7 QI strategies. The rate that strategies were used varied substantially, e.g., the rate of in-person training (55%) was more than twice the rate of plan-do-study-act cycles (20%). On average, studies assessed two implementation outcomes; the rate these outcomes were used varied widely, with 37% reporting on staff perceptions (e.g., feasibility) of solutions or QI strategies vs. 8% reporting on fidelity and sustainment. Most studies (n  = 49) reported service outcomes and over half (n  = 34) reported resident outcomes. In studies with statistical tests of improvement, service outcomes improved more often than resident outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: This study maps-out the scope of published, peer-reviewed studies of QI in NHs. The findings suggest preliminary guidance for future studies designed to promote the replication and synthesis of promising solutions. The findings also suggest strategies to refine procedures for more effective improvement work in NHs.

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