Patient safety

Building leaders for change

Core competencies for Patient Safety researchers

In some instances, the risk of patient harm can be even greater in developing and transitional countries. This risk is exacerbated by the limited capacity at both personnel and institutional levels to carry out research, improve patient safety in health care and effect change.

To address this, WHO Patient Safety has developed the first edition of the Core Competencies for Patient Safety Researchers, a tool to strengthen capacity in research methods and in the science of improvement. This tool guides the development of training programmes for post-graduate researchers and practitioners in the area of patient safety. The science of patient safety, the methodologies for epidemiology and health services research, and principles for knowledge translation are the essence of these core competencies.

What are the core competencies for patient safety research?

The core competencies highlight the set of skills, knowledge and attitudes that patient safety researchers and improvement officers will acquire during completion of the training in order to effect change. Acquiring these competencies will facilitate the development of the leadership skills needed to contribute to change in health care.

How were the core competencies identified?

The competencies were identified through a multi-stage process led by an international expert group convened by WHO Patient Safety in 2008, and guided by Prof Peter Norton from the University of Calgary and Dr Narendra Arora, Executive Director from the INCLEN Trust, India.

The development process involved identifying an initial framework for the competencies, reviewing the relevant literature, conducting a series of consultations with potential users and international experts from over 35 countries and finally convening a global consensus conference. The competencies are considered by the WHO Patient Safety task force, by potential end users in developing and transitional countries and by international experts in the field to be relevant, comprehensive, clear, easily adaptable to local contexts and useful for training patient safety researchers internationally.

WHO Patient Safety acknowledges the essential collaboration of the members of the WHO Patient Safety Research Training and Education Working Group in achieving the Core Competencies for Patient Safety Researchers.