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Quality Management in Health Care

June 2012, Volume 21 Number 2 , p 93 - 103


  • Monica E. Nyström PhD
  • Darcey D. Terris PhD
  • Vibeke Sparring MSc
  • Sara Tolf MSc
  • Claire R. Brown PhD


Our objective was to test whether the Structured Problem and Success Inventory (SPI) instrument could capture mental representations of organizational and work-related problems as described by individuals working in health care organizations and to test whether these representations varied according to organizational position. A convenience sample (n = 56) of middle managers (n = 20), lower-level managers (n = 20), and staff (n = 16) from health care organizations in Stockholm (Sweden) attending organizational development courses during 2003–2004 was recruited. Participants used the SPI to describe the 3 most pressing organizational and work-related problems. Data were systematically reviewed to identify problem categories and themes. One hundred sixty-four problems were described, clustered into 13 problem categories. Generally, middle managers focused on organizational factors and managerial responsibilities, whereas lower-level managers and staff focused on operational issues and what others did or ought to do. Furthermore, we observed similarities and variation in perceptions and their association with respondentsʼ position within an organization. Our results support the need for further evaluation of the SPI as a promising tool for health care organizations. Collecting structured inventories of organizational and work-related problems from multiple perspectives may assist in the development of shared understandings of organizational challenges and lead to more effective and efficient processes of solution planning and implementation.

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