A randomized controlled trial of quality assurance in sixteen ambulatory care practices

Med Care. 1985 Jun;23(6):751-70. doi: 10.1097/00005650-198506000-00001.


A crossover randomized controlled trial of cycles of quality assurance in 16 primary care (8 medical, 8 pediatric) group practices was conducted. Of four medical and four pediatric tasks important to patient outcome, two were randomly assigned to experimental intervention (a quality assurance cycle), and two were also measured and used as blinded controls for each medical or pediatric group practice. Task performance was measured in each group for 12 months prior to, 9 months during, and 9 months after the experimental intervention, using as a performance score the percentage of evaluation criteria failed of those applicable to a case. As a result of quality assurance intervention, quality of performance was significantly improved in two of the tasks (P less than 0.0001, with 6.7, and 9.8 percentage points improvement), and marginally improved in one task (P = 0.06, 5.7 percentage points improvement). Surprisingly, tasks with lower perceived effect on patient health (low physician motivation) had greater improvement in quality. Unimproved tasks were associated with the perceived need for delivery system changes beyond the immediate control of the individual practitioner.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / standards*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Boston
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / standards*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Nurse Practitioners / psychology
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / standards
  • Peer Review / methods
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Random Allocation
  • Research Design