Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety

Research shows that when patients are engaged in their health care, it can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality.  To promote stronger engagement, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed a guide to help patients, families, and health professionals work together as partners to promote improvements in care.
A photograph shows a woman in a hospital bed and a man standing at the bedside, holding her hand. They are listening to a health professional, who is standing with her back to the camera.

The Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety focuses on four primary strategies for promoting patient/family engagement in hospital safety and quality of care:

  • Encourage patients and family members to participate as advisors.
  • Promote better communication among patients, family members, and health care professionals from the point of admission.
  • Implement safe continuity of care by keeping the patient and family informed through nurse bedside change-of-shift reports.
  • Engage patients and families in discharge planning throughout the hospital stay.

As a first step in developing the guide, AHRQ conducted an environmental scan assessing the current literature, tools, and resources available to engage patients and families in their care in the hospital setting. The scan includes:

  • A framework that describes how patient and family engagement can lead to improved quality and safety.
  • A description of factors that influence patient and family engagement, including characteristics and perspectives of patients, families, health care professionals, and hospital organizational and cultural factors.
  • Hospital-based methods and materials currently being used to engage patients and families in the safety and quality of care. 
  • An analysis of what materials are needed but do not currently exist.

Read the findings from the environmental scan report, Guide to Patient and Family Engagement: Final Environmental Scan Report, at: http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/ptfamilyscan/.

Based on the environmental scan report, AHRQ developed the Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety, which underwent pilot testing at three hospitals and was refined based on feedback from patients, family members, health professionals, and hospital administrators.

For more information about the environmental scan or the Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety, contact Margie Shofer at (301) 427-1259 or Marjorie.shofer@ahrq.hhs.gov.

Page last reviewed June 2013
Internet Citation: Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety . June 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/hospital/engagingfamilies/index.html