Middleton S & Lumby J. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1998; 4: 151–155
Exploring the precursors of outcome evaluation in Australia: Linking structure, process and outcome by peer review
Reviews of the structure of the health system and the processes that contributed to them were the main forms of evaluation within nursing in Australia during the 1970s and 1980s. The documentation of the end result of care, or outcome evaluation, was rarely undertaken until more recent times. The development and implementation of formal assessment tools such as Qualpacs, the Phaneuf Nursing Audit, the Rush Medicus Nursing Process Methodology, Monitor, and Senior Monitor indicated the focus on structure and process evaluation. This paper examines how nursing care delivered to patients during the l970s and 1980s was evaluated, and explores why structure and process review were necessary precursors to outcome evaluation in the nineties. The necessity of linking structure and process analysis is discussed, in order to perform effective outcome evaluation to close the feedback loop between quality assessment and quality improvement. Peer review is one mechanism that can be used to achieve this. How this may also be a form of evidence-based practice which results in health gains for patients is also explored.