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OBJECTIVES: To review the empirical literature to identify the activities, time spent and engagement of hospital managers in quality of care. DESIGN: A systematic review of the literature. METHODS: A search was carried out on the databases MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO, EMBASE, HMIC. The search strategy covered three facets: management, quality of care and the hospital setting comprising medical subject headings and key terms. Reviewers screened 15,447 titles/abstracts and 423 full texts were checked against inclusion criteria. Data extraction and quality assessment were performed on 19 included articles. RESULTS: The majority of studies were set in the USA and investigated Board/senior level management. The most common research designs were interviews and surveys on the perceptions of managerial quality and safety practices. Managerial activities comprised strategy, culture and data-centred activities, such as driving improvement culture and promotion of quality, strategy/goal setting and providing feedback. Significant positive associations with quality included compensation attached to quality, using quality improvement measures and having a Board quality committee. However, there is an inconsistency and inadequate employment of these conditions and actions across the sample hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence that managers' time spent and work can influence quality and safety clinical outcomes, processes and performance. However, there is a dearth of empirical studies, further weakened by a lack of objective outcome measures and little examination of actual actions undertaken. We present a model to summarise the conditions and activities that affect quality performance.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT, Leadership, Patient Safety, Systematic literature review, Hospital Administrators, Hospitals, Humans, Patient Safety, Professional Role, Quality of Health Care