Improving Quality in Healthcare (Case Study in Dental Primary Care in Scotland)


Improving quality is fundamental for healthcare organisations. One means of ensuring high-quality and effective care is the development of evidence-based guidance and translating this into practice. Numerous have explored the impact of the individual level behaviours; however, few have explored organisation/team level behaviours. This study will investigate which characteristics of primary care organisations influence the translation of guidance into practice.

This research project is funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office as a Doctoral Fellowship held by Mrs. Heather Cassie which is supervised by Professor Jan Clarkson (DHSRU), Dr Shaun Treweek (University of Aberdeen), Professor Lorna McKee (University of Aberdeen), Professor Craig Ramsay (University of Aberdeen), and supported by Dr Linda Young (NHS Education for Scotland). NHS Education for Scotland also provide funding to support this research.


  1. Explore the structure, culture and management of primary care organisations
  2. Develop a self-report questionnaire-based instrument to measure the structure, culture and management of general dental practices
  3. Determine which organisational characteristics are most influential on knowledge translation and in what context; and identify what facilitates and what enhances knowledge translation

Design and Techniques

The study will comprise there phases:

  1. A literature review exploring organisational change in primary healthcare organisations, focusing on knowledge translation; Critical Interpretative Synthesis methodology will be used
  2. Development and validation of a self-report questionnaire-based instrument to measure the structure, culture and management of dental practices
  3. Using a mixed-method approach, collect data on the structure, culture and management of dental practices as well as self-report compliance data in four guidance areas to examine the relationship between organisational characteristics and compliance with guidance


This still will identify the organisational characteristics that influence the translation of guidance. The results will contribute to a framework for the translation of evidence and clinical guidance into routine clinical practice, ultimately improving effectiveness and quality of care for patients.

Research Team

Professor Jan Clarkson, Co-Director DHSRU
Mrs Heather Cassie, CSO Research Fellow
Dr Linda Young, Research Manager (NES), Member DHSRU
Professor Craig Ramsay,  Professor of Healthcare Assessment, University of Aberdeen
Professor Lorna McKee, University of Aberdeen
Dr Shaun Treweek, University of Aberdeen