Background: The Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) Guidelines were published in 2008 to increase the completeness, precision and accuracy of published reports of systematic efforts to improve the quality, value and safety of healthcare. Since that time, the field has expanded. We asked people from the field to evaluate the Guidelines, a novel approach to a first step in revision.
Methods: Evaluative design using focus groups and semi-structured interviews with 29 end users and an advisory group of 18 thinkers in the field. Sampling of end users was purposive to achieve variation in work setting, geographic location, area of expertise, manuscript writing experience, healthcare improvement and research experience.
Results: Study participants reported that SQUIRE was useful in planning a healthcare improvement project, but not as helpful during writing because of redundancies, uncertainty about what was important to include and lack of clarity in items. The concept "planning the study of the intervention" (item 10) was hard for many participants to understand. Participants varied in their interpretation of the meaning of item 10b "the concept of the mechanism by which changes were expected to occur". Participants disagreed about whether iterations of an intervention should be reported. Level of experience in writing, knowledge of the science of improvement and the evolving meaning of some terms in the field are hypothesised as the reasons for these findings.
Conclusions: The original SQUIRE Guidelines help with planning healthcare improvement work, but are perceived as complicated and unclear during writing. Key goals of the revision will be to clarify items where conflict was identified and outline the key components necessary for complete reporting of improvement work.