The Health Foundation is an independent charity working to continuously improve the quality of heatlhcare in the UK

The Research Scan

Every month we scan thousands of journals to select and summarise around 60 of the most interesting studies about healthcare improvement.

See the tabs below to browse or download this month’s scan.

About the research scan
  • Highlights
    Last month's highlights
  • Person-centred care
    Person-centred care
    Focuses on changing the relationship with professionals and healthcare systems to provide improved person-centred care.
  • Patient safety
    Patient safety
    Demonstrating and delivering systems to actively manage safety.
  • Value for money
    Value for money
    Studies about reducing the time or cost spent on healthcare activities.
  • Approaches to improvement
    Approaches to improvement
    Evidence about creating and spreading knowledge for improvement.

Methods and design of included studies

  • Systematic reviews draw together the findings of different studies using structured methods, and describe how studies were found.
  • Literature reviews draw on a range of different studies but don’t always use structured methods or describe the methods used in detail.
  • Randomised controlled trials allocate people to different groups at the start of the study and then follow them up at the same time to see if there is a difference between groups. Because people are randomly allocated to each group, if there is a difference between the groups this should be due to whatever is being tested.
  • Non randomised comparisons (quasi trials) compare two groups, but people are not randomly allocated to each group so it is less clear whether any difference between groups is a result of whatever is being tested or something else.
  • Before and after studies look at what happens to a group of people over time. A measure is taken at the start of the study (before the intervention) and again later (after the intervention).
  • Interviews ask people questions in person or by telephone. The questions and answers tend to be longer and more in depth than surveys.
  • Surveys ask people a series of questions online, on paper or by telephone. The questions tend to be short and structured.
  • Observational studies (assorted methods) include focus groups, observing people’s behaviour or a mix of interviews, surveys, document analysis or other methods.
  • Data analyses or document analyses involves drawing information from existing documents or databases or analysing datasets that have been collected for another purpose.
  • Case studies use various methods to look at one organisation or group in detail to outline a narrative of what can be learnt from the specific example.
  • Case control studies look back over time and compare one group (the cases or group that something happened to or who have a certain condition) to another group.
  • Cost analyses can include a variety of methods for analysing the costs and savings of an intervention. 
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