About SOPS

As part of its goal to support a culture of patient safety and quality improvement in the Nation's health care system, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) sponsored the development of patient safety culture assessment tools for hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory outpatient medical offices, community pharmacies, and ambulatory surgery centers.

The AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (SOPS™) program enables health care organizations to assess how their staff perceive various aspects of patient safety culture in the following settings:

Why Choose the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture?

Health care organizations can use these survey assessment tools to:

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

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. View the video Why Submit Data to the AHRQ SOPS Databases.

The Surveys on Patient Safety Culture are publicly available for download and use. International users should contact SafetyCultureSurveys@westat.com for permission to use the survey outside the U.S.

Defining Patient Safety Culture

Patient safety culture is the extent to which an organization’s culture supports and promotes patient safety. Patient safety culture refers to the beliefs, values, and norms that are shared by health care practitioners and other staff throughout the organization that influence their actions and behaviors. Patient safety culture can be measured by determining what is rewarded, supported, expected, and accepted in an organization as it relates to patient safety.

The SOPS Program

The Surveys on Patient Safety Culture program is funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ and its contractor develop and maintain the surveys, toolkit materials, and databases; provide technical assistance and education; and promote the use of the surveys for patient safety culture improvement.

AHRQ developed the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture and released it in 2004. In 2019, AHRQ released an updated version, the SOPS Hospital Survey 2.0. The original survey, Version 1.0, remains available; however, the use of Version 2.0 is encouraged. AHRQ has also developed patient safety culture surveys for other settings:  Nursing Home (2008), Medical Office (2009), Community Pharmacy (2012), and Ambulatory Surgery Centers (2015). At this time, voluntary databases exist for all surveys. 

Using the SOPS Trademark

When using any of the SOPS surveys, reference the full name "Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS™)" with the trademark symbol (™) to indicate trademark is pending. In the text of written documents (journal articles, press coverage, etc.), spell out the name the first time that 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, please refer to the guidelines on modifying and naming SOPS surveys in Using the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™.

Additional Resources

The SOPS program offers resources to assist survey users, including an Action Planning Tool, Data Entry and Analysis Tool, resource lists, research reference lists, and frequently asked questions.

Webcasts, Presentations, and Announcements

Learn more about the AHRQ-sponsored webcasts, presentations, and announcements on the SOPS program.

International Users

AHRQ is interested in finding out about international users of the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture. If you are an international user, please email SafetyCultureSurveys@westat.com to share information about your administration of the surveys, results, and any translations you have made of the surveys. For more information about international use of the Surveys on Patient Safety Culture, go to International Users.

Technical Assistance

Page last reviewed September 2019
Page originally created July 2012
Internet Citation: About SOPS. Content last reviewed September 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/sops/about/index.html
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