Key questions addressed

  • Are collaboratives effective for improving the quality of health care?
  • What factors may be associated with success?

This scan compiles research about whether quality improvement collaboratives are effective.

Quality improvement collaboratives involve groups of professionals coming together, either from within an organisation or across multiple organisations, to learn from and motivate each other to improve the quality of health services. Collaboratives often use a structured approach, such as setting targets and undertaking rapid cycles of change.

Collaboratives have been used as an improvement approach in health care for the past 20 years or so, but with mixed results. In the NHS, collaboratives have been proposed as a potential vehicle for change so it is important to ensure that the design of these initiatives makes the best use of evidence about what works to enable a successful collaborative approach.

The scan suggests that collaboratives are not always successful but they are more likely to be effective if they:

  • focus on who should be included
  • consider the topic focus
  • consider how to run activities
  • provide appropriate resources.

The scan looked at readily available research published in journals in the UK and internationally between March 2008 and March 2014. It also draws on a 2009 Health Foundation systematic review of material published between 1995 and March 2008. That review included specific types of collaboratives (using the IHI ‘model for improvement’), whereas the current scan was broader and included any intervention that defined itself as a collaborative.

Further information

The Health Foundation has worked on a number of projects and programmes involving collaboratives, including Stroke 90:10. Findings from this programme were published in the journal Implementation Science after the scan was undertaken.

Further reading

Quick guide

Quality improvement made simple

April 2021
Quick guide

Updated in 2021, this third edition outlines what you need to know about health care quality...

You might also like...

Event

Webinar: NHS recovery – how do we ‘build back better’?

Event

A panel discussion exploring the extent of the backlog facing the NHS in the recovery period and how...

Register

Blog

A complex patchwork of programmes

Blog

The Health Foundation’s Improvement team share some findings from their mapping of the health care...

Consultation response

Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic

Consultation response

Our evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee's inquiry

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Our long read explores improvement approaches that can increase productivity, and how to make them happen. It outl… https://t.co/DhMNIyeVYF

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more