Assessing Patients' Perceptions of Safety Culture in the Hospital Setting: Development and Initial Evaluation of the Patients' Perceptions of Safety Culture Scale

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Both, patient satisfaction and hospital safety culture have been recognized as key characteristics of healthcare quality and patient safety. Thus, both characteristics are measured widely to support quality and safety improvement efforts. However, because safety culture surveys focus exclusively on the perspective of hospital staff, the complimentary information to be gained from patients' perceptions of safety culture has received little research attention so far. We aimed to develop a measure explicitly focusing on patients' perceptions of safety culture in the hospital setting and perform an initial evaluation of its measurement properties.


We employed a multistep development approach including (a) literature review of survey instruments for patient experience and safety culture and (b) item categorization and selection. We evaluated the measurement properties of the final item set focusing on factor structure, internal consistency, item difficulty, and discrimination. Data were collected from June to December 2015 via an online patient survey conducted routinely by a health insurer.


Overall, 112,814 insured persons participated in the online survey (response rate = 19.7%). The final 11-item set formed a single scale that was named Patients' Perceptions of Safety Culture scale. Its measurement properties were deemed satisfactory based on this initial evaluation.


The Patients' Perceptions of Safety Culture scale contributes to both a more comprehensive view of patients' experience of healthcare and a more balanced approach to safety culture measurement in healthcare. It contributes to an increased recognition of patients' views on safety-relevant aspects of their care that provide important inputs to patient safety improvement.

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