Review: engaging patients as vigilant partners in safety: a systematic review

Med Care Res Rev. 2010 Apr;67(2):119-48. doi: 10.1177/1077558709342254. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Several initiatives promote patient involvement in error prevention, but little is known about its feasibility and effectiveness. A systematic review was conducted on the evidence of patients' attitudes toward engagement in error prevention and the effectiveness of efforts to increase patient participation. Database searches yielded 3,840 candidate articles, of which 21 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Patients share a positive attitude about engaging in their safety at a general level, but their intentions and actual behaviors vary considerably. Studies applied theories of planned behavior and indicate that self-efficacy, preventability of incidents, and effectiveness of actions seem to be central to patients' intention to engage in error prevention. Rigorous evaluations of major educational campaigns are lacking. Interventions embedded within clinical settings have been effective to some extent. Evidence suggests that involvement in safety may be successful if interventions promote complex behavioral change and are sensitively implemented in health care settings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patients / psychology
  • Safety Management*