Exploring patient safety culture in preventive medicine settings: an experience from Northern Italy

J Prev Med Hyg. 2017 Jun;58(2):E121-E129.


Introduction: Patient safety and quality in healthcare are inseparable. Examining patient safety culture in staff members contributes to further develop quality in healthcare. In Italy there has been some experience in assessing patient safety culture in staff working in hospital. In this pilot study we explored patient safety culture in public health staff working in Italian Local Health Authorities.

Methods: We carried out a descriptive cross sectional study in four Italian territorial Prevention facilities in Northern Italy. We administrated an adapted Italian version of the US Hospital Survey of Patient Safety Culture to all the staff within these facilities. The survey consisted of 10 dimensions based on 33 items, according to the results of a previous psychometric validation.

Results: Seventy per cent of the staff responded to the survey (N = 479). Overall, six out of the 10 dimensions exhibited composite scores of positive response frequency for patient safety culture below 50%. While "communication openness" (65%) was the most developed factor, "teamwork across Units" (37%) was the least developed. The work areas with the highest composite scores were Management and the Public Health Laboratory, while in terms of professional categories, Physicians had the highest scores. Patient safety culture in the staff participating in this study was lower than in hospital staff.

Discussion: Our descriptive cross sectional study is the first to be carried out in Preventive medicine settings in Italy. It has clearly indicated the need of improvement. Consequently, several interventions with this aim have been implemented.

Keywords: Italy; Patient safety; Staff culture; Territorial preventive care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Patient Safety*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Preventive Medicine / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Safety Management*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires