Evaluating Quality Improvement Training Programs

Do they increase the ability of people to successfully engage in work to improve health and health care?

Dates of Program: May 2008 through June 2013

Field of Work: Advancing the science of quality improvement research, evaluation, and training

Quality improvement training is “an applied field that needs the tools that the projects in this program developed. If you’re going to evaluate these kinds of programs you’re going to need innovative tools.” — Lori Melichar, director

Problem Synopsis: While health care and public health workers have many opportunities to acquire quality improvement training, limited evidence exists about whether and how these training programs increase the ability of these individuals to successfully engage in work to improve health and health care. Information about the impact of such programs on organizational culture and patient outcomes also is scarce.

Synopsis of the Work: RWJF awarded grants for five research projects that evaluated different quality improvement training programs for health care leaders and staff.

“We have built a community of people [ASQUIRE] who are struggling with these challenges and when they have future challenges they will probably go to people in this community to help work them out,” said RWJF’s Melichar.

Key Findings

  • The five projects evaluated different QI training programs using a variety of evaluation methods. Themes that emerged from the findings include:

    • Curricula and program factors such as modality (in-person session, online tutorial, etc.) and dosage (single session, multi-session, multi-part, etc.) directly shape learning from training programs.
    • Equally important are opportunities to apply new skills and organizational factors that affect adoption of the learning from training.
    • Staff engagement with quality improvement is influenced by having an organizational culture oriented to quality improvement, leadership support, and clear sponsorship of quality improvement projects.
    • Evaluator experiences underscore the importance of mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) approaches to understanding the impact of training and issues related to the sustainability of that impact.

The work completed through Evaluating Quality Improvement Training Programs is another step in advancing the science of quality improvement research, evaluation, and training.