Aim. To investigate the factors that influence the successful implementation of audit in a palliative care setting.
Background. Quality assurance is a necessary component of contemporary health care. In the past, palliative care has not generally been subject to systems of audit and quality management. However in recent years the need for all health care organizations to have clear policies and procedures for maintaining quality has become more pressing.
Method. An action research project was conducted to investigate the implementation of audit in a palliative care setting, which involved the application and modification of the Support Team Assessment Scale (STAS).
Findings. A collaborative approach was adopted and this facilitated the identification of factors vital to successful introduction of the audit methodology into the unit. These included effective teamwork, the input of an external facilitator, good relationships with management and prompt and relevant feedback on progress. The use of STAS was fully integrated into the work of the unit and a robust programme of audit has been established.
Conclusion. Combining the cyclical nature of action research methodology and the audit process with Lewin's change theory provided a clear conceptual framework for the research. This approach would be applicable in a range of health care settings to bring about improvements in quality management.