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...

Press release

Continued pressure on emergency services not safe or sustainable

Press release

Health Foundation response to the NHS England monthly performance statistics.

Blog

Five recommendations for strengthening NHS management and leadership

Blog

With the Messenger review nearing publication, we draw on our recent research – including interviews...

Blog

Improving hospital discharge in England: the case for continued focus and support

Blog

What’s the future of the ‘discharge to assess’ model for hospitals? Tim Horton and Suzanne Wood draw...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

@dez_holmes @AYPHcharity Thanks for sharing Dez! You can find similar content here: Context matters: what’s neede… https://t.co/6WXhSy94lC

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