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Improving Quality in Healthcare: A Case Study in Dental Primary Care in Scotland


One means of improving the quality of healthcare is through the development of evidence based guidance and translating these recommendations into routine clinical practice. However a consistent finding in health services research is that the translation of these findings can be slow and haphazard.

Current evidence suggests the while change is possible research must adopt a comprehensive approach at multiple levels – the individual, the team and the organisation. Many studies have explored individual level behaviours that may influence the translation of guidance in practice but few have investigated the organisational level factors. This PhD aims to explore what organisational characteristics of primary care organisations facilitate the translation of guidance into practice.

This PhD study comprises a three phase mixed method design:

  1. A literature review exploring organisational change in primary healthcare organisations, focusing on knowledge translation;
  2. Development and validation of a self-report questionnaire-based instrument measuring structure, culture and management in dental practices;
  3. Dental practice case studies, to collect data on the structure, culture and management of dental practices along with self-report compliance data exploring the relationship between organisational characteristics and guidance compliance.

Current Status

Data collection is complete and the final stages of analysis are currently being undertaken. A final report to the funders will be submitted in April 2015 with the PhD thesis to follow.

PhD Student

Heather Cassie


Professor Jan Clarkson, University of Dundee, NHS Education for Scotland; Professors Shaun Treweek, Lorna McKee and Craig Ramsay, University of Aberdeen


Dr Linda Young, SDPBRN, NHS Education for Scotland


Chief Scientist Office/NHS Education for Scotland