Open Access Research article

Do specialty registrars change their attitudes, intentions and behaviour towards reporting incidents following a patient safety course?

José D Jansma12*, Dorien LM Zwart34, Ian P Leistikow3, Cor J Kalkman3, Cordula Wagner25 and Arnold B Bijnen16

Author Affiliations

1 Foreest Medical School, Medical Center Alkmaar, Wilhelminalaan 12, 1815JD Alkmaar, the Netherlands

2 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 University Medical Center Utrecht Patient Safety Center, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584CX Utrecht, the Netherlands

4 University Medical Center Utrecht, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584CX Utrecht, the Netherlands

5 NIVEL Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, Otterstraat 118 - 124, 3500BN Utrecht, the Netherlands

6 VU University Medical Center, Institute for Education and Training, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:100  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-100

Published: 23 April 2010



Reporting incidents can contribute to safer health care, as an awareness of the weaknesses of a system could be considered as a starting point for improvements. It is believed that patient safety education for specialty registrars could improve their attitudes, intentions and behaviour towards incident reporting. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of a two-day patient safety course on the attitudes, intentions and behaviour concerning the voluntary reporting of incidents by specialty registrars.


A patient safety course was designed to increase specialty registrars' knowledge, attitudes and skills in order to recognize and cope with unintended events and unsafe situations at an early stage. Data were collected through an 11-item questionnaire before, immediately after and six months after the course was given.


The response rate at all three points in time assessed was 100% (n = 33). There were significant changes in incident reporting attitudes and intentions immediately after the course, as well as during follow-up. However, no significant changes were found in incident reporting behaviour.


It is shown that patient safety education can have long-term positive effects on attitudes towards reporting incidents and the intentions of registrars. However, further efforts need to be undertaken to induce a real change in behaviour.