Since 2001, the AHRQ Surveys on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS®) program has supported AHRQ's mission by advancing the scientific understanding of patient safety culture in healthcare settings.
What Does the SOPS Program Do?
The SOPS Program is a full-service program designed to understand, measure, and improve patient safety culture in healthcare settings. Program activities include:
- Conducting research on patient safety culture.
- Developing SOPS surveys, supplemental item sets, and informational materials about SOPS survey administration and data analysis.
- Developing materials to design and implement initiatives to improve patient safety culture.
- Hosting voluntary databases to help organizations measure and track improvements in patient safety culture.
- Providing technical assistance and education on administering the surveys, participating in the SOPS databases, and using the surveys for patient safety culture improvement.
Read the SOPS Program Brief: SOPS: Assessing Patient Safety Culture From a Provider and Staff Perspective (PDF, 490 KB).
What Is Patient Safety Culture?
Patient safety culture is an aspect of an organization's culture that supports and promotes patient safety. Patient safety culture refers to the beliefs, values, and norms that are shared by healthcare 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. Culture exists at multiple levels in organizations, including the unit, department, organization, and system levels. Healthcare organizations can use the SOPS surveys to assess the extent to which their organizational culture supports patient safety.
What SOPS Surveys Are Available?
The SOPS program enables healthcare organizations to assess how their providers and staff perceive various aspects of patient safety culture in the following settings:
- Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture
- Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture
- Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture
- Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture
- Ambulatory Surgery Center Survey on Patient Safety Culture
Users of SOPS surveys have the option of incorporating additional questions, known as supplemental item sets, to customize their questionnaires.
- Supplemental Item Sets for the SOPS Hospital Survey
- Supplemental Item Sets for the SOPS Medical Office Survey
- Supplemental Item Set for the SOPS Nursing Home Survey:
The SOPS surveys and supplemental item sets are publicly available for download and use. International users should contact SafetyCultureSurveys@westat.com for permission to use the survey outside the United States.
How Are SOPS Surveys Used?
Healthcare organizations can use these survey assessment tools to:
- Raise staff awareness about patient safety.
- 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.
SOPS survey findings are typically reported to leadership, providers, and staff in the healthcare organizations to support efforts to assess and improve their own patient safety culture. Surveys are also sometimes used for incentive, accreditation, or value-based purchasing programs.AHRQ's collection of Impact Case Studies highlights successes of organizations using AHRQ's evidence-based tools and resources, including the SOPS Surveys. Learn more about these success stories for the SOPS Surveys.
What Are the SOPS Databases?
AHRQ established the SOPS Databases as central repositories for survey data from each of the SOPS surveys. Healthcare organizations that administer any 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?
Where Can I Find More Information About the SOPS Program and Surveys?
Using the SOPS name—Guidelines for using the trademarked SOPS name when referring to the program and its many products support appropriate and consistent use of the SOPS trademark.
Additional Resources—The SOPS program offers resources to assist survey users, including an Action Planning Tool, Data Entry and Analysis Tool, improvement resources, and the SOPS searchable Bibliography.
International Use—Learn more about international use of the SOPS surveys.
Announcement Email Updates—Sign up for SOPS subscription announcement email updates.