Walking the line between assessment, improvement and learning: a qualitative study on opportunities and risks of incorporating peer discussion of audit and feedback within quality improvement in general practice

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Objectives There is a broad call for change towards € new era' quality systems in healthcare, in which the focus lies on learning and improving. A promising way to establish this in general practice care is to combine audit and feedback with peer group discussion. However, it is not known what different stakeholders think of this type of quality improvement. The aim of this research was to explore the opinions of different stakeholders in general practice on peer discussion of audit and feedback and on its opportunities and risks. Second, their thoughts on transparency versus accountability, regarding this system, were studied. Design An exploratory qualitative study within a constructivist paradigm. Semistructured interviews and focus group discussions were held and coded using thematic analysis. Included stakeholders were general practitioners (GP), patients, professional organisations and insurance companies. Setting General practice in the Netherlands. Participants 22 participants were purposively sampled for eight interviews and two focus group discussions. Results Three main opportunities of peer discussion of audit and feedback were identified: deeper levels of reflection on data, adding context to numbers and more ownership; and three main risks: handling of unwilling colleagues, lacking a safe group and the necessity of patient involvement. An additional theme concerned disagreement on the amount of transparency to be offered: insurance companies and patients advocated for complete transparency on data and improvement of outcomes, while GPs and professional organisations urged to restrict transparency to giving insight into the process. Conclusions Peer discussion of audit and feedback could be part of a change movement, towards a quality system based on learning and trust, that is initiated by the profession. Creating a safe learning environment and involving patients is key herein. Caution is needed when complete transparency is asked, since it could jeopardise practitioners' reflection and learning in safety.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere066793
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023


  • audit
  • medical education & training
  • primary care
  • qualitative research
  • quality in health care

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