Health sector accreditation research: a systematic review

Int J Qual Health Care. 2008 Jun;20(3):172-83. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzn005. Epub 2008 Mar 13.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify and analyze research into accreditation and accreditation processes.

Data sources: A multi-method, systematic review of the accreditation literature was conducted from March to May 2007. The search identified articles researching accreditation. Discussion or commentary pieces were excluded.

Study selection: From the initial identification of over 3000 abstracts, 66 studies that met the search criteria by empirically examining accreditation were selected. DATA EXTRACTION AND RESULTS OF DATA SYNTHESIS: The 66 studies were retrieved and analyzed. The results, examining the impact or effectiveness of accreditation, were classified into 10 categories: professions' attitudes to accreditation, promote change, organizational impact, financial impact, quality measures, program assessment, consumer views or patient satisfaction, public disclosure, professional development and surveyor issues.

Results: The analysis reveals a complex picture. In two categories consistent findings were recorded: promote change and professional development. Inconsistent findings were identified in five categories: professions' attitudes to accreditation, organizational impact, financial impact, quality measures and program assessment. The remaining three categories-consumer views or patient satisfaction, public disclosure and surveyor issues-did not have sufficient studies to draw any conclusion. The search identified a number of national health care accreditation organizations engaged in research activities.

Conclusion: The health care accreditation industry appears to be purposefully moving towards constructing the evidence to ground our understanding of accreditation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care