Qualities of Personal Interaction: the Promotion of Research Utilisation for Quality Improvement in the US Health Care Sector
Palmer, James Caldwell
Nature of the inquiry: My research inquiry investigated how qualities of personal interaction shape and affect the promotion of research utilisation for quality improvement in the US healthcare sector. The research investigated my own professional practice of consulting, teaching, and research regarding the improvement of healthcare practices and outcomes. Efforts to improve the quality of healthcare services are often difficult to realise and sustain. The quality improvement movement in the USA and elsewhere has not conducted much self-examination of its own processes for sources of these perennially problematic results. Relevance: The quality of healthcare services can be readily understood as having consequences of life or death, wellness or suffering. Healthcare expenditures in the USA are estimated at 16% of GDP and over 9% in the UK. Improving healthcare quality improvement efforts is a matter of profound human and social significance. Approach: The DMan research methodology is a reflexively aware process conducted as a cohort and as small learning groups of researchers during the three-year programme. The research inquiry used the complex responsive process of relating theory of learning as emergent changes of meaning or, equivalently, knowledge. As a social science of qualities, it uses the qualities of human interaction as the unit of analysis. The research utilised an interdisciplinary approach drawing upon: healthcare quality improvement literature; organizational discourse studies; research on strategy as practice; performance management; communications theories; the theory of mindful learning; interpersonal neurobiology; figurational sociology; and American pragmatist philosophy. The methodology employs a mindful reflexivity research strategy related to concepts from mindful learning and social neuroscience literature. Central methods included iterative peer and supervisor debriefing and iterative reflexive narrative practice. Findings: A contribution is made to the healthcare literature by describing how ordinary qualities of social coordination dynamics affect the promoters of healthcare research, not just potential users of research. A contribution is made to professional practice by providing a new perspective from which to analyse the sources of performance challenges prevalent in healthcare quality improvement efforts. The research findings indicate how applications of substantial organisational and social resources to promote research utilisation in the US health sector can be co-opted and dissipated away from ostensive substantive objectives. This occurs by research promoters‟ organizational discourse efforts to favourably shape power relating and other qualities of interaction of improvement initiatives. These efforts restrict the emergence of learning about the promoted changes.