Development and Psychometric Evaluation of the Speaking Up About Patient Safety Questionnaire

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Abstract

Objective

Speaking up about safety concerns by staff is important to prevent medical errors. Knowledge about healthcare workers' speaking up behaviors and perceived speaking up climate is useful for healthcare organizations (HCOs) to identify areas for improvement. The aim of this study was to develop a short questionnaire allowing HCOs to assess different aspects of speaking up among healthcare staff.

Methods

Healthcare workers (n = 523) from 2 Swiss hospitals completed a questionnaire covering various aspects of speak up–related behaviors and climate. Psychometric testing included descriptive statistics, correlations, reliabilities (Cronbach α), principal component analysis, and t tests for assessing differences in hierarchical groups.

Results

Principal component analysis confirmed the structure of 3 speaking up behavior-related scales, that is, frequency of perceived concerns (concern scale, α = 0.73), withholding voice (silence scale, α = 0.76), and speaking up (speak up scale, α = 0.85). Concerning speak up climate, principal component analysis revealed 3 scales (psychological safety, α = 0.84; encouraging environment, α = 0.74; resignation, α = 0.73). The final survey instrument also included items covering speaking up barriers and a vignette to assess simulated behavior. A higher hierarchical level was mostly associated with a more positive speak up–related behavior and climate.

Conclusions

Patient safety concerns, speaking up, and withholding voice were frequently reported. With this questionnaire, we present a tool to systematically assess and evaluate important aspects of speaking up in HCOs. This allows for identifying areas for improvement, and because it is a short survey, to monitor changes in speaking up—for example, before and after an improvement project.

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