SOPS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These frequently asked questions address issues related to the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS™) for hospitalsmedical officesnursing homes, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centers, as well as the Health Information Technology Patient Safety Supplemental Item Set and the Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Sets for hospitals and medical offices.

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General Questions

  1. Why should a healthcare organization conduct a safety culture survey?
  2. There are other organizational culture and safety culture surveys; why should an organization use one of the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. How often should an organization administer the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?
  4. Are there web versions of the surveys?
  5. What is a composite or a dimension?
  6. Can I use the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture outside the United States?
  7. Do I have permission to use the surveys?
  8. Can international facilities participate in the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture databases?
  9. Can I translate the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?
  10. How should the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture be referenced?
  11. Can I modify the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture or do I need to use them as is?
  12. What supplemental item sets are available for the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?
  13. Where should the supplemental item sets be added?
  14. Are Spanish versions of the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture available?
  15. Is it possible for me to obtain the data from the databases?
  16. How can I improve my survey results?
  17. How can I improve my response rate?
  18. How can I stay up to date on safety culture news?
  19. Whom can I contact if I have further questions?

Questions Specific to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture

  1. What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  2. How long is the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?
  4. Can I compare my SOPS hospital survey results against other hospitals?
  5. What supplemental items are available for the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  6. Can I compare my hospital's SOPS Health IT Patient Safety Supplemental Item Set results against other hospitals?
  7. Can I compare my hospital's SOPS Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Set results against other hospitals?

Questions Specific to the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture

  1. What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  2. How long is the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. What is considered a medical office?
  4. Can any size medical office conduct the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  5. Does it matter what specialty or specialties my medical office covers?
  6. How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?
  7. Can I compare my SOPS medical office survey results against other medical offices?
  8. What supplemental items are available for the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  9. Can I compare my medical office's SOPS Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Set results against other medical offices?

Questions Specific to the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture

  1. What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  2. How long is the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. Does the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture apply to assisted living facilities, community care facilities, or independent living facilities?
  4. How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?
  5. Can I compare my SOPS nursing home survey results against other nursing homes?

Questions Specific to the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture

  1. What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  2. How long is the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. What is considered a community pharmacy?
  4. How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?
  5. Is the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture applicable to a hospital pharmacy setting that does both inpatient and retail pharmacy business?
  6. Can I compare my SOPS community pharmacy survey results against other community pharmacies?

Questions Specific to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture

  1. What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  2. How long is the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture?
  3. What is considered an ambulatory surgery center (ASC)?
  4. Is the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture applicable to hospital outpatient departments?
  5. Can I compare my SOPS ambulatory surgery center survey results against other ASCs?

General Questions

Question 1: Why should a healthcare organization conduct a safety culture survey?

Answer: Safety culture surveys are useful for measuring organizational conditions that can lead to adverse events and patient harm in healthcare organizations. Organizations that want to assess their existing culture of patient safety should consider conducting a safety culture survey. Safety culture surveys can be used to:

  • Raise staff awareness about patient safety.
  • Elucidate and assess the current status of patient safety culture.
  • Identify strengths and areas for patient safety culture improvement.
  • Evaluate trends in patient safety culture change over time.
  • Evaluate the cultural impact of patient safety initiatives and interventions.

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Question 2: There are other organizational culture and safety culture surveys; why should an organization use one of the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture have several advantages. They are:

  1. Free—available to the public. The surveys were developed by AHRQ and are available free of charge.
  2. An organizationwide instrument. The surveys were designed to be administered to all types of staff, including clinical and nonclinical staff in hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centers. They can be used to assess individual units or departments or can be administered organizationwide.
  3. Reliable and valid. The survey development process was careful and rigorous, based on a review of the existing research and other culture surveys. More important, the survey items have demonstrated reliability and validity (for more details, refer to the survey Toolkit materials available on the AHRQ SOPS website).
  4. Comprehensive and specific. The surveys cover several areas of patient safety culture, providing a level of detail that helps organizations identify specific areas of strength and areas for improvement. In addition, there are supplemental items users may add to assess content in areas not included in the core questionnaire (e.g., Health Information Technology Patient Safety Supplemental Items and Value and Efficiency Supplemental Items).
  5. Easy to use. Each survey has an accompanying Toolkit that contains the following materials:
    • Survey Forms.
    • Survey Items and Composites.
    • A Survey User's Guide: Gives step-by-step instructions on how to select a sample, administer the survey and obtain high response rates, and how to analyze and report results.
    • Data Entry and Analysis Tool: A data entry and analysis tool that works with Microsoft® Excel and makes it easy to input your individual-level data from the survey. The tool then automatically creates tables and graphs to display your survey results. To request the tool for the hospital, medical office, nursing home, or community pharmacy survey, send an email.
  6. Repositories of data. AHRQ established the SOPS Databases as central repositories for survey data from each of the SOPS surveys. Healthcare organizations that administer one of the AHRQ patient safety culture surveys can voluntarily submit their data to the appropriate database and compare their survey results to the database.

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Question 3: How often should an organization administer the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: On average, hospitals that have submitted to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture database more than once readminister the survey every 24 months. Although we do not provide any set recommendations regarding when to readminister the survey, we do caution against administering the survey less than 6 months apart. This would apply as well to the medical office, nursing home, community pharmacy, and ambulatory surgery center settings.

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Question 4: Are there web versions of the surveys?

Answer: AHRQ does not currently have a web survey available for any of the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture. Thus, survey users must program their own web surveys or hire a vendor. For guidance on how to administer a web survey, please see the respective Survey User’s Guide located on the AHRQ website.

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Question 5: What is a composite or a dimension?

Answer: The Surveys on Patient Safety Culture survey items are grouped into areas of patient safety culture that they are intended to measure. These areas are referred to as composites or dimensions. The terms composite and dimension are used interchangeably to refer to this grouping of survey items that measure the same patient safety culture area.

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Question 6: Can I use the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture outside the United States?

Answer: Please contact the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture team to request AHRQ’s permission to translate and/or use the surveys internationally. For more information about international use of the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture.

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Question 7: Do I have permission to use the surveys?

Answer: The AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture for hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centers and all of their related materials are free and available for public use. You may locate and download them from the AHRQ SOPS website.

More information about using the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture.

For permission to use the surveys outside the United States, contact via email.

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Question 8: Can international facilities participate in the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture Databases?

Answer: Unfortunately, while any facility is free to use the survey, the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture Databases are currently accepting data only from U.S. facilities. However, we would like to know more about what your plans are or what you have done with the survey in your country. Please contact to share information about your use of the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture.

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Question 9: Can I translate the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: Spanish versions are available for the following AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture: Hospital, Medical Office, Nursing Home, Community Pharmacy, Ambulatory Surgery Center, and the Health IT Patient Safety Supplemental Item Set. The Spanish translations are designed for U.S. Spanish-speaking respondents from different countries. A number of translations in other languages have already been developed by international users who have agreed to share their contact information. For more information on translating the surveys, contact the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture team to request AHRQ's permission to translate and/or use the surveys internationally.

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Question 10: How should the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture be referenced?

Answer: When using any of the SOPS surveys, reference the full name “Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS™) with the trademark symbol ™ to indicate trademark pending. In the text of written documents (journal articles, press coverage, etc.), spell out the name the first time it appears, followed by SOPS in parentheses: "Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS™) program." Indicate that this is a program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

If you are administering a patient safety culture survey that is based on a SOPS survey or uses items from a SOPS survey, refer to the guidelines on modifying and naming SOPS surveys in Using the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™.

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Question 11: Can I modify the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture or do I need to use them as is?

Answer: To maintain comparability and consistency across SOPS surveys, you should not modify the surveys. In general, we recommend making only those changes or additions to a survey that are absolutely necessary. Any changes may affect the reliability and overall validity of the survey and may make comparisons with other facilities difficult.

  • Changing the core survey: These changes include changing the wording of items or response options, changing the order of items or response options, deleting one or more items, and adding supplemental or custom questions among the core items within the survey.  If any of these changes are made, the results of your survey are not comparable with other organizations in the SOPS Databases.
  • Modifying work areas or staff positions: Your facility may wish to modify the responses to these background questions so that they reflect the names of work units, staff position titles, and the like. Modifications to these sections are acceptable; however, if the organization plans to submit to any of the SOPS Databases, they must recode the modified units/work areas or staff positions so they crosswalk back to the original survey’s units/work areas or staff positions.
  • Adding items: You are welcome to use the supplemental item sets developed under the SOPS program or items from other surveys for your own purposes, including open-ended questions. Any supplemental items or additional items from other surveys must be added to the end of the SOPS survey, just before the Background Questions section. When inserting supplemental items, remember to include the appropriate subheadings for each supplemental item set.

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Question 12: What supplemental item sets are available for the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: AHRQ has developed supplemental item sets that can be added to the Hospital and Medical Office SOPS to assess content in areas not covered by the core questions. These supplemental item sets are optional. Currently, there are supplemental item sets for Health IT Patient Safety for Hospitals and Value and Efficiency for Hospitals and Medical Offices.

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Question 13: Where should the supplemental item sets be added?

Answer: Any supplemental item sets must be added to the end of the SOPS Hospital or Medical Office Survey, just before the Background Questions section.  Be sure to include the definitions of terms and subheadings.

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Question 14: Are Spanish versions of the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture available?

Answer: The following SOPS surveys and supplemental items are available in Spanish:

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Question 15:  Is it possible for me to obtain the data from the databases?

Answer:  AHRQ has established a process whereby researchers can request de-identified data files from the SOPS Databases. Those interested in obtaining the data must submit a completed Research Abstract Form and signed Data Release Agreement.

For the Hospital SOPS Database only, hospital-identifiable data files may be made available that include data from the database that contain hospital identifiers, such as hospital name, address, and Medicare Provider ID. Valid purposes for using the hospital-identifiable data do not include the use of the data for public reporting, or for proprietary, commercial, or competitive purposes involving the participating organizations; or to determine the rights, benefits, or privileges of organizations participating in the database. Researchers interested in obtaining hospital-identifiable data must submit a completed Hospital-Identifiable Research Abstract Form and Confidentiality Agreement.

More information and the forms.

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Question 16: How can I improve my survey results?

Answer: SOPS resource lists are available and contain references to websites that provide practical resources to improve patient safety culture and patient safety. The lists are not exhaustive but are meant to offer initial guidance for those looking for information on patient safety initiatives. Resources lists have been developed for the hospital, nursing home, medical office, community pharmacy, and ambulatory surgery center surveys, the Health IT Patient Safety Supplemental Item Set for hospitals, and the Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Sets for hospitals and medical offices. In addition, the Action Planning Tool helps healthcare organizations develop an action plan for improving patient safety culture in their facilities.

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Question 17: How can I improve my response rates?

Answer: There are many ways to increase your survey response rate, but it will require effort and careful planning. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Engage leadership.
  2. Publicize the survey.
  3. Use survey best practices.
  4. Create a competitive spirit.
  5. Provide survey incentives.

An audio podcast and tip sheet on improving response rates is available.

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Question 18: How can I stay up to date on safety culture survey news?

Answer: You may register for Email updates from the AHRQ website.

Choose from the following Surveys on Patient Safety Culture Email subscription lists:

  • Hospital Survey.
  • Medical Office Survey.
  • Nursing Home Survey.
  • Community Pharmacy Survey.
  • Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey.
  • Translations and International Use.

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Question 19: Whom can I contact if I have further questions?

Answer: If you have questions about the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture or need technical assistance, please email.

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Questions Specific to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture

Question 20: What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes a total of 51 items. There are 42 items that measure 12 composites.

The composites in the hospital  survey are:

  1. Communication Openness.
  2. Feedback & Communication About Error.
  3. Frequency of Events Reported.
  4. Hospital Handoffs & Transitions.
  5. Hospital Management Support for Patient Safety.
  6. Nonpunitive Response to Error.
  7. Organizational Learning-Continuous Improvement.
  8. Overall Perceptions of Safety.
  9. Staffing.
  10. Supervisor/Manager Expectations & Actions Promoting Patient Safety.
  11. Teamwork Across Hospital Units.
  12. Teamwork Within Units.

In addition, the hospital survey includes:

  1. One item that asks respondents to provide an overall grade on patient safety for their hospital.
  2. One item measuring the number of events the respondent has reported over the past 12 months.
  3. Seven items about respondent background characteristics.

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Question 21: How long is the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: There are a total of 51 items in the survey and it takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Most of the items use Agree/Disagree or Never/Always response categories, so they are easy to answer. There is room for written comments at the end of the survey.

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Question 22: How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?

Answer: A single hospital location needs at least 10 completed surveys to submit to the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database.

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Question 23: Can I compare my SOPS hospital survey results against other hospitals?

Answer: AHRQ established the Hospital SOPS Database as a central repository for survey data from the Hospital SOPS. AHRQ has produced Database Reports, which aggregate data from hundreds of hospitals that have voluntarily submitted their data to the database. The database serves as an important resource for patient safety culture improvement.

Information about eligibility requirements, registration procedures, and benefits of participating in the database is available.

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Question 24: What supplemental item sets are available for the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: AHRQ has developed supplemental item sets that can be added to the Hospital SOPS to assess content in areas not covered by the core questions. These supplemental item sets are optional. Currently, there are supplemental item sets for Health IT Patient Safety and Value and Efficiency.

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Question 25: Can I compare my hospital's SOPS Health IT Patient Safety Supplemental Item Set results against other hospitals?

Answer: Hospitals can refer to the Pilot Study Results From the 2017 AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS™) Health Information Technology Patient Safety Supplemental Items for Hospitals, which are based on data from more than 9,000 staff in 44 hospitals that participated in a pilot test of the supplemental items in 2017.

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Question 26: Can I compare my hospital’s SOPS Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Set results against other hospitals?

Answer: Hospitals can refer to the Results From the 2014 Pilot Study of the AHRQ Value and Efficiency Supplemental Items for the Hospital SOPS Survey, which are based on data from more than 4,000 staff in 47 hospitals that participated in a pilot test of the items in early 2014.

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Questions Specific to the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture

Question 27: What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes a total of 58 items. There are 38  items measuring 10 composites.

The composites in the medical office survey are:

  1. Communication About Error.
  2. Communication Openness.
  3. Office Processes and Standardization.
  4. Organizational Learning.
  5. Overall Perceptions of Patient Safety and Quality.
  6. Owner/Managing Partner/Leadership Support for Patient Safety
  7. Patient Care Tracking/Followup.
  8. Staff Training.
  9. Teamwork.
  10. Work Pressure and Pace.

In addition, the medical office survey includes:

  1. Nine items measuring patient safety and quality issues.
  2. Five items about information exchange with other settings.
  3. One screener question.
  4. Two overall rating questions.
  5. Three items about respondent background characteristics.

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Question 28: How long is the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: There are a total of 58 items in the survey and it takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Most of the items use response categories such as Daily/Not in the Past 12 Months, Agree/Disagree, or Never/Always, so they are easy to answer. There is room for written comments at the end of the survey.

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Question 29: What is considered a medical office?

Answer: The survey was designed to measure the culture of patient safety in medical offices with the following characteristics:

  • A medical office should be an outpatient facility in a specific location. A medical practice or health care system may have multiple medical offices in different locations, but each unique location would be considered a separate medical office for survey administration and feedback.
  • A medical office could be located in a building containing multiple medical offices, but each office in the building would be considered a separate medical office for the purposes of the survey.
  • Providers in a single medical office should share some or all administrative staff, such as receptionists and schedulers, and share some or all clinical support staff.

These characteristics are essential because the survey asks respondents about patient safety and quality issues for a specific medical office location. The survey can be administered to multiple medical offices within a practice, health care system, or building, but each medical office would have to be identified as a separate office rather than being surveyed as one entity.

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Question 30: Can any size medical office conduct the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: In small offices with a solo practitioner or two-providers, rather than administering the survey, it can be used as a tool to initiate open dialog or discussion about patient safety and quality issues among providers and staff. In health systems or multisite practices, the survey may be administered in smaller offices if the responses are aggregated and only reported at the larger practice or system level. Aggregating the responses would help maintain the confidential nature of individual responses in small offices.

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Question 31: Does it matter what specialty or specialties my medical office covers?

Answer: The survey was designed to be appropriate for any specialty. Your office may provide primary care services only, other specialty care services only, or a mix of primary and specialty care services.

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Question 32: How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?

Answer: A single medical office location needs at least five completed surveys to submit to the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database.

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Question 33: Can I compare my SOPS medical office survey results against other medical offices?

Answer: AHRQ established the Medical Office SOPS Database as a central repository for survey data from the Medical Office SOPS. AHRQ has produced database reports, which aggregate data from hundreds of medical offices that have voluntarily submitted their data to the database. The database serves as an important resource for patient safety culture improvement.

Information about eligibility requirements, registration procedures, and benefits of participating in the database is available.

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Question 34: What supplemental items are available for the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: AHRQ has developed supplemental items that can be added to the Medical Office SOPS to assess content in areas not covered by the core questions. These supplemental items are optional. Currently, there are supplemental items for Value and Efficiency.

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Question 35: Can I compare my medical office’s SOPS Value and Efficiency Supplemental Item Set results against other medical offices?

Answer: Medical offices can refer to the Results From the 2014 Pilot Study of the AHRQ Value and Efficiency Supplemental Items for the Medical Office SOPS Survey, which are based on data from more than 1,400 staff in 96 medical offices that participated in a pilot test of the items in early 2014.

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Questions Specific to the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture

Question 36: What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes a total of 51 items emphasizes resident safety issues. It includes 42 survey items measuring 12 composites.

The composites in the nursing home survey are:

  1. Communication Openness.
  2. Compliance With Procedures.
  3. Feedback and Communication About Incidents.
  4. Handoffs.
  5. Management Support for Resident Safety.
  6. Nonpunitive Response to Mistakes.
  7. Organizational Learning.
  8. Overall Perceptions of Resident Safety.
  9. Staffing.
  10. Supervisor Expectations and Actions Promoting Resident Safety.
  11. Teamwork.
  12. Training and Skills.

In addition, the nursing home survey includes

  1. Two overall rating questions.
  2. Seven items about respondent background characteristics.

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Question 37: How long is the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: There are a total of 51 items in the survey and it takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Most of the items use Agree/Disagree or Never/Always response categories, so they are easy to answer. There is room for written comments at the end of the survey.

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Question 38: Does the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture apply to assisted living facilities, community care facilities, or independent living facilities?

Answer: A nursing home is a facility or a special contained area of a facility that has only licensed nursing home beds and is not an assisted living, community care, or independent living facility. The survey was designed to measure resident safety culture in a nursing home facility or in a special contained area of a facility (e.g., a hospital) that includes only licensed nursing home beds, so it is important to understand the type of nursing home facility that the survey was designed for.

  • It was not designed for use in assisted living facilities, community care facilities, or independent living facilities.
  • If a nursing home is located on a large campus or facility that has a mix of nursing home and other long-term care programs (such as independent living, assisted living, and rehabilitation services), survey only the facilities or areas with nursing home beds. Exclude staff who work only in areas with independent living, assisted living, or rehabilitation beds.

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Question 39: How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?

Answer: A single nursing home location needs at least 10 completed surveys to submit to the Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database.

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Question 40: Can I compare my SOPS nursing home survey results against other nursing homes?

Answer: AHRQ established the Nursing Home SOPS Database as a central repository for survey data from the Nursing Home SOPS. AHRQ has produced database reports, which aggregate data from hundreds of nursing homes that have voluntarily submitted their data to the database. The database serves as an important resource for patient safety culture improvement.

Information about eligibility requirements, registration procedures, and benefits of participating in the database is available.

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Questions Specific to the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture

Question 41: What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes a total of 43 items. There are 36 items that measure 11 composites.

The composites in the community pharmacy survey are:

  1. Communication About Mistakes.
  2. Communication About Prescriptions Across Shifts.
  3. Communication Openness.
  4. Organizational Learning—Continuous Improvement.
  5. Overall Perceptions of Patient Safety.
  6. Patient Counseling.
  7. Physical Space and Environment.
  8. Response to Mistakes.
  9. Staff Training and Skills.
  10. Staffing, Work Pressure, and Pace.
  11. Teamwork.

In addition, the community pharmacy survey includes:

  1. Three items about documenting mistakes.
  2. One overall rating question.
  3. Three items about respondent background characteristics.

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Question 42: How long is the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: There are a total of 43 items in the survey and it takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Most of the items use Agree/Disagree or Never/Always response categories so it is easy to answer. There is room for written comments at the end of the survey.

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Question 43: What is considered a community pharmacy?

Answer: The survey was designed to measure the culture of patient safety in community pharmacies in a single location. This includes pharmacies such as:

  • Independent pharmacies.
  • Supermarket pharmacies.
  • Mass merchants/discount retailer pharmacies.
  • Chain drugstores (local, regional, national).
  • Integrated health system pharmacies (non-hospital unit based).

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Question 44: How many completed surveys are needed to submit to the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database?

Answer: A single pharmacy location needs at least five completed surveys to submit to the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture Database.

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Question 45: Is the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture applicable to a hospital pharmacy setting that does both inpatient and retail pharmacy business?

Answer: The survey was designed for community pharmacies. You may decide, however, that it is appropriate to administer it in other types of pharmacies, such as pharmacies in an integrated health care system or a hospital, or pharmacies that supply medications only to hospices or nursing homes. Alternatively, it may be that the Hospital Survey best suits the needs of hospital-based pharmacies. We recommend that you closely review the content of both surveys before deciding.

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Question 46: Can I compare my SOPS community pharmacy survey results against other community pharmacies?

Answer: AHRQ established the Community Pharmacy SOPS Database as a central repository for survey data from the Community Pharmacy SOPS. AHRQ has produced a Database Report, which aggregates data from dozens of community pharmacies that have voluntarily submitted their data to the database. The database serves as an important resource for patient safety culture improvement.

Information about eligibility requirements, registration procedures, and benefits of participating in the database is available.

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Questions Specific to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture

Question 47: What areas of patient safety culture do the survey questions cover on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture includes a total of 35 items. There are 27 items that measure 8 composites.

The composites in the ambulatory surgery center survey are:

  1. Communication About Patient Information.
  2. Communication Openness.
  3. Staffing, Work Pressure, and Pace.
  4. Teamwork.
  5. Staff Training.
  6. Organizational Learning—Continuous Improvement.
  7. Response to Mistakes.
  8. Management Support for Patient Safety.

In addition, the ambulatory surgery center survey includes:

  1. One item measuring how often ASCs document near-misses.
  2. One item asking respondents to provide an overall rating on patient safety for their ASC.
  3. One screener item asking whether the respondent is in the room during surgeries, procedures, or treatments and three subsequent items measuring how often doctors and staff communicate before and after surgeries.
  4. Three items about communication before and after surgery.
  5. Two items about respondent background characteristics.

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Question 48: How long is the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture?

Answer: The survey has a total of 35 items and it takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Most of the items use Agree/Disagree or Never/Always response categories so it is easy to answer. There is room for written comments at the end of the survey.

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Question 49: What is considered an ambulatory surgery center (ASC)?

Answer: Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) are facilities that have been certified and approved to participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ ASC program. ASCs provide surgical services to patients who are not expected to need an inpatient stay following surgery. ASCs can be freestanding or affiliated with a hospital or large medical center.

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Question 50: Is the Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture applicable to hospital outpatient departments? 

The survey was designed for ASCs, which are facilities that have been certified and approved to participate in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' ASC program. However, an ASC can be affiliated with a hospital and the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture may best suit the needs of hospital outpatient departments. We recommend that you closely review the content of both surveys before deciding.

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Question 51: Can I compare my SOPS ambulatory surgery center survey results against other ASCs?

Answer: Ambulatory surgery centers can refer to the Results From the 2014 AHRQ Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture Pilot Study (PDF, 1.8 MB), which is based on data from more than 1,800 staff in 59 ASCs that participated in a pilot test of the survey in 2014.

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Page last reviewed June 2018
Page originally created April 2010
Internet Citation: SOPS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Content last reviewed June 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/sops/about/faq.html
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