Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Researchers’ Roles in Patient Safety Improvement

Pietikäinen, Elina MA (Psych); Reiman, Teemu PhD (Psych); Heikkilä, Jouko MSc (Tech); Macchi, Luigi PhD

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000096
Original Articles

Objectives In this article, we explore how researchers can contribute to patient safety improvement. We aim to expand the instrumental role researchers have often occupied in relation to patient safety improvement.

Methods We reflect on our own improvement model and experiences as patient safety researchers in an ongoing Finnish multi-actor innovation project through self-reflective narration.

Results Our own patient safety improvement model can be described as systemic. Based on the purpose of the innovation project, our improvement model, and the improvement models of the other actors in the project, we have carried out a wide range of activities. Our activities can be summarized in 8 overlapping patient safety improvement roles: modeler, influencer, supplier, producer, ideator, reflector, facilitator, and negotiator.

Conclusions When working side by side with “practice,” researchers are offered and engage in several different activities. The way researchers contribute to patient safety improvement and balance between different roles depends on the purpose of the study, as well as on the underlying patient safety improvement models. Different patient safety research paradigms seem to emphasize different improvement roles, and thus, they also face different challenges. Open reflection on the underlying improvement models and roles can help researchers with different backgrounds—as well as other actors involved in patient safety improvement—in structuring their work and collaborating productively.

From the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere, Finland.

Correspondence: Elina Pietikäinen, MA (Psych), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O. Box 1300, FI-33101 Tampere, Finland (e-mail:

The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

This work was supported by Tekes the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved