Safety Culture Survey Qualitative Comment Review

One of the most important – and the most overlooked – sections of the culture survey is the qualitative comments that respondents fill in when they take the survey. It is extraordinarily important to review at a central level and to distribute them to the appropriate managers/directors. Review of the comments by a central person or office (often the Director of Patient Safety/Quality) allows for the identification of recurrent themes across the organization or hospital, as well as issues or examples that require further investigation. Staff may reveal issues that should be referred to Human Resources, Peer Review, or Risk Management;  you can’t afford to miss these important signals about what is happening in your facility’s work settings.

There are myriad reasons that organizations don’t pay adequate attention to these comments, such as:

  • A large volume of comments and no one in a central position has allocated time to reviewing them;
  • Lack of framework for categorizing issues, recurrent themes, or concerning comments;
  • Lack of strategy to disseminate comments;
  • The perception that only ‘complainers’ have entered comments;
  • Concern that the comments may be ‘hurtful’ towards the leadership (managers/supervisors/leadership).

However, it is vitally important to use the comments in a constructive manner, both to improve the work environment and to provide necessary feedback to the unit leadership. I have extensive experience reviewing these comments, categorizing them, and identifying themes and issues.