Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Creating Quality Improvement Culture in Public Health Agencies


The authors conducted case studies of 10 agencies that participated in early quality improvement efforts. Case study participants included health directors and quality improvement team leaders and members. They implemented multiple qualitative analysis processes, including cross-case analysis and logic modeling. They categorized agencies according to the extent to which they had developed a quality improvement culture.

Key Findings: Agencies were conducting both informal and formal quality improvement projects, or creating a quality improvement culture. Agencies conducting informal quality improvement were likely to report that accreditation is the major driver for quality improvement work. Agencies conducting formal quality improvement and creating a quality improvement culture had leadership support for quality improvement, participated in national quality improvement initiatives, had a greater number of staff trained in quality improvement and quality improvement teams that met regularly with decision-making authority. Agencies creating a quality improvement culture were more likely to have a history of evidence-based decision-making and use quality improvement to address emerging issues.

Findings of this study support previous research and add the roles of national public health accreditation and emerging issues as factors in agencies' ability to create and sustain a quality improvement culture.

Suggested Citation: Davis, M. V., Mahanna, E., Joly, B., Zelek, M., Riley, W., Verma, P., & Solomon Fisher, J. (2014). Creating quality improvement culture in public health agencies. American Journal of Public Health, 104(1), e98-e104. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301413

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Publish Date: 
January 1, 2014

Nellie Mae Education Foundation nominates Pious Ali for the Lawrence W. O'Toole Award

Pious Ali

Pious Ali, Youth and Community Engagement Specialist in Cutler’s Children, Youth, and Families Programs, has been nominated for the Lawrence W. O’Toole Award by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Pious is one of six nominees from the New England states.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation believes that student-centered learning – where learning is personalized, engaging, competency-based and not restricted to the classroom – will prepare young people to graduate high school ready to contribute to their communities and succeed. This award is given out each year to an individual, school district, or non-profit that has exhibited great leadership in moving student-centered approaches to learning forward in the New England region.

The winner will be selected by online voting and will be awarded a $100,000 grant to help advance student centered learning!


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New Jersey's Manage By Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes

Photo of the cover of New Jersey's Manage By Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes

This report, authored by Muskie School of Public Service researchers David Lambert and Julie Atkins, presents five strategies that organizations can follow to change their culture by moving toward data-driven decision making.

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Cover: Maine Crime and Justice Data Book 2014

Using the most recent public safety, corrections, and court data available, the Maine Crime and Justice Data Book presents a portrait of the state's crime and justice indicators, including 10-year trends in Maine and comparisons with northern New England and the U.S. at large.

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Muskie Public Health Graduate Students Present at Maine CDC Conference

MPH graduate student Trevey Davis describing the academic program to a conference attendee at Maine CDC Division of Infectious Disease Annual Conference.

The Muskie School of Public Service, Graduate Program in Public Health, and the Maine Public Health Institute exhibited at the Maine CDC Division of Infectious Disease Annual Conference and the concurrent Immunization Annual Conference.  Practice faculty member, Judy Tupper, DHEd, CHES, CPPS and MPH graduate student Trevey Davis spoke with many of the 500 public health professionals attending the conferences.  In addition, Muskie Public Health Education Corps members Carissa Parent, Jacey Keller, and Nikki Busmanis, (MPH graduate students) presented a research poster based on their recent Lyme disease educational intervention pilot in Maine schools.  Dr. Tupper also presented a poster regarding the results of the online training pilot program for Maine EMS personnel on the topic of infection control and prevention.  Educating Fifth Graders on Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases and Prevention Methods" at the Maine CDC Division of Infectious Disease Annual Conference.

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