Postgrad Med J 87:750-756 doi:10.1136/pgmj.2011.117366
  • Original article

Do we know what foundation year doctors think about patient safety incident reporting? Development of a web based tool to assess attitude and knowledge

  1. Paul Bowie2
  1. 1Education Centre, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfries, UK
  2. 2West Region, NHS Education for Scotland, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jean Robson, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, Education Centre, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Bankend Road, Dumfries DG1 4AP, UK; jean.robson{at}
  • Received 6 January 2011
  • Accepted 25 June 2011
  • Published Online First 29 July 2011


Background Making healthcare safer is an international priority. Patient safety modules are now taught in medical schools, and methods to assess related student knowledge and attitudes have been developed. However, little is known about the attitudes and knowledge which foundation doctors are developing to patient safety and incident reporting in the healthcare workplace, since a specific assessment tool appears to be lacking.

Aims To develop, content validate and pilot test an online questionnaire survey to elicit foundation doctors' knowledge and experience of patient safety and incident reporting, and assess related attitudes and behaviours.

Methods Questionnaire content validity was facilitated through: a steering group; literature review; feedback from foundation year doctors and consultant staff; a modified Delphi group; and completion of a content validity index by experts. In 2010 a cross-sectional online survey of 110 foundation year 1 and 2 doctors was then undertaken in three Scottish NHS board areas, utilising the developed 25 item questionnaire.

Results The questionnaire was validated, and piloted among 69 foundation year doctors who responded to the questionnaire. The pilot has provided valuable insights into trainee attitudes and experience. For example, 32 (48%) believed that most safety incidents were due to things that they could not do anything about; and 31 (43%) admitted to being involved in medication errors which were not formally reported.

Conclusions The pilot study was successful in taking the first steps to developing a validated survey questionnaire for a key staff group, foundation year doctors, in a priority area. However, the findings raise concerns about trainee experience of and attitudes to reporting, and the frequency with which incidents go unreported.


  • Funding Funding and support for this study were provided jointly by NHS Education for Scotland, 3rd Floor, 2 Central Quay 89 Hydepark Street Glasgow G3 8BW and NHS Dumfries & Galloway, Dumfries, DG1 4AP, UK

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study was judged as service evaluation by the West of Scotland research ethics service.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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