Nothing endures but change

Dr Sze-Ee Soh1,2, Associate Professor Peter Hunter2, Ms  Dina Watterson2, Associate Profesor Anna  Barker1

1Monash University, Frankson, Australia, 2Alfred Health, Caulfield, Australia


To explore the perceptions of safety climate in a subacute Australian hospital and examine associations with patient safety outcomes.


The Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ) was used to quantify clinician perceptions of safety climate. Scores for each SAQ domain were converted to a 100-point numeric scale, with higher scores indicating more positive safety climate. Negative binomial regression models were used to examine associations between the SAQ scores and patient safety outcomes.


A total of 138 clinicians completed the safety climate survey (response rate 44%). The majority of staff who responded were nursing staff (50%) and had worked at the hospital for less than five years (37%). Scores for the SAQ domain for this sample were higher compared with international benchmarking data, except for the stress recognition domain. Perceptions of safety climate varied across the participating wards. Staff working on aged care wards recorded a statistically significant higher median score in the job satisfaction domain compared to those working on rehabilitation wards (p=0.013). Nursing staff were also observed to have a statistically significant higher median score in the safety climate domain compared to allied health staff (p=0.013). Preliminary negative binomial regression analyses indicate that there was no association between the SAQ domains and falls or pressure injuries across all wards, however, further analyses are planned with additional variables such as length of stay, functional outcomes and patient demographics.

Significance of the findings to allied health:

This study has shown that shown that wards may have their own safety ‘sub-culture’ that is distinct to the overall hospital safety culture, highlighting the need to tailor and target quality improvement initiatives at the ward level. The value of investing in patient safety climate has also been demonstrated, particularly as a strategy to enhance patient safety outcomes.