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Dr Deborah Debono to investigate international patient safety issue

3 April 2017

Dr Deborah Debono of the Centre for Health Services Management has received a UTS Early Career Research (ECR) grant for her research on the implementation of Electronic Medication Management Systems (EMMS). The research project aims to improve the implementation of EMMS using behaviour change theory and implementation science approaches. The UTS ECR grant will fund a pilot study that uses the Theoretical Domains Framework Implementation (TDFI) to identify the barriers to reliable implementation and introduce targeted interventions to enhance nurses’ use of the EMMS in one Australian hospital. The findings of the study will inform the implementation of EMMS and of evidence across multiple disciplines including clinical education and health.


The EMMS patient safety initiative was introduced in response to high rates of medication errors in acute care. However, unreliable implementation potentially undermines the capacity of EMMS to reduce medication error and challenges the capacity to isolate and measure the impact of EMMS on medication error. Furthermore, nurses report feeling tension when unable to use EMMS as prescribed. The pilot study titled ‘Embedding Electronic Medication Management Systems into practice using implementation science’ is based on the premise that patient safety interventions, such as the implementation of EMMS, require healthcare professionals to change their behaviour. Theoretical approaches to identifying barriers to behaviour change have been found to be more successful that non-theoretical approaches. The study draws on the findings of Dr Debono’s previous work, ‘Applying the Theoretical Domains Framework to identify barriers and targeted interventions to enhance nurses’ use of electronic medication management systems in two Australian hospitals,’ [opens external site] recently published in the journal Implementation Science.

The TDFI, developed by Dr Natalie Taylor [opens external site] of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI) at Macquarie University, has previously been used to achieve clinical, statistical and cost-effective improvements in implementation of evidence across hospitals throughout the UK. A group of internationally recognised leaders in patient safety, health services research, implementation science and behaviour change make up the advisory panel for this research project. Among them are Dr Natalie Taylor, Professors Jeffrey Braithwaite, Ric Day and Julie Johnson and UTS Professors Joanne Travaglia, Christine Duffield, Fiona Brooks and Mr David Carter.


Byline: Madelyn Lines