Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
McCarthy et al 2021 Reporting standards, outcomes and costs of QI studies.pdf (1.19 MB)
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Reporting standards, outcomes and costs of quality improvement studies in Ireland: a scoping review

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-07-12, 09:32 authored by Siobhan McCarthySiobhan McCarthy, Samira Barbara Jabakhanji, Jennifer Martin, Maureen Alice Flynn, Jan SorensenJan Sorensen

Objectives: To profile the aims and characteristics of quality improvement (QI) initiatives conducted in Ireland, to review the quality of their reporting and to assess outcomes and costs.

Design: Scoping review.

Data sources: Systematic searches were conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, Google Scholar, Lenus and Two researchers independently screened abstracts (n=379) and separately reviewed 43 studies identified for inclusion using a 70-item critique tool. The tool was based on the Quality Improvement Minimum Quality Criteria Set (QI-MQCS), an appraisal instrument for QI intervention publications, and health economics reporting criteria. After reaching consensus, the final dataset was analysed using descriptive statistics. To support interpretations, findings were presented at a national stakeholder workshop.

Eligibility criteria: QI studies implemented and evaluated in Ireland and published between January 2015 and April 2020.

Results: The 43 studies represented various QI interventions. Most studies were peer-reviewed publications (n=37), conducted in hospitals (n=38). Studies mainly aimed to improve the 'effectiveness' (65%), 'efficiency' (53%), 'timeliness' (47%) and 'safety' (44%) of care. Fewer aimed to improve 'patient-centredness' (30%), 'value for money' (23%) or 'staff well-being' (9%). No study aimed to increase 'equity'. Seventy per cent of studies described 14 of 16 QI-MQCS dimensions. Least often studies reported the 'penetration/reach' of an initiative and only 35% reported health outcomes. While 53% of studies expressed awareness of costs, only eight provided at least one quantifiable figure for costs or savings. No studies assessed the cost-effectiveness of the QI.

Conclusion: Irish QI studies included in our review demonstrate varied aims and high reporting standards. Strategies are needed to support greater stimulation and dissemination of QI beyond the hospital sector and awareness of equity issues as QI work. Systematic measurement and reporting of costs and outcomes can be facilitated by integrating principles of health economics in QI education and guidelines.


HSE National Quality Improvement Team



The original article is available at

Published Citation

McCarthy SE, Jabakhanji SB, Martin J, Flynn MA, Sørensen J. Reporting standards, outcomes and costs of quality improvement studies in Ireland: a scoping review. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10(3):e001319.

Publication Date

2 August 2021

PubMed ID



  • Graduate School of Healthcare Management
  • Health Outcomes Research Centre

Research Area

  • Health Professions Education
  • Population Health and Health Services




  • Published Version (Version of Record)