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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Facilitators and barriers influencing patient safety in Swedish hospitals: a qualitative study of nurses’ perceptions

Mikaela Ridelberg*, Kerstin Roback and Per Nilsen

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis, Linkoping University, Linköping 581 83, Sweden

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BMC Nursing 2014, 13:23  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-13-23

Published: 13 August 2014



Sweden has undertaken many national, regional, and local initiatives to improve patient safety since the mid-2000s, but solid evidence of effectiveness for many solutions is often lacking. Nurses play a vital role in patient safety, constituting 71% of the workforce in Swedish health care. This interview study aimed to explore perceived facilitators and barriers influencing patient safety among nurses involved in the direct provision of care. Considering the importance of nurses with regard to patient safety, this knowledge could facilitate the development and implementation of better solutions.


A qualitative study with semi-structured individual interviews was carried out. The study population consisted of 12 registered nurses at general hospitals in Sweden. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


The nurses identified 22 factors that influenced patient safety within seven categories: ‘patient factors’, ‘individual staff factors’, ‘team factors’, ‘task and technology factors’, ‘work environment factors’, ‘organizational and management factors’, and ‘institutional context factors’. Twelve of the 22 factors functioned as both facilitators and barriers, six factors were perceived only as barriers, and four only as facilitators. There were no specific patterns showing that barriers or facilitators were more common in any category.


A broad range of factors are important for patient safety according to registered nurses working in general hospitals in Sweden. The nurses identified facilitators and barriers to improved patient safety at multiple system levels, indicating that complex multifaceted initiatives are required to address patient safety issues. This study encourages further research to achieve a more explicit understanding of the problems and solutions to patient safety.

Patient safety; Nurse; Qualitative content analysis; Interview; Implementation; Intervention; Multifaceted