Interpersonal relationships in quality improvement

Use of ‘close-to-practice’ methodologies to explain and change impact of interpersonal relationships in quality improvement



In Palliative Care (for people with potentially life-limiting illnesses) and Psychiatry (for people with mental health conditions), care depends on:

  • therapeutic relationships between professionals, patients and carers;
  • specialists in Palliative Care and Psychiatry working with healthcare professionals (commonly called generalists) in primary/community care and hospitals

This is especially important when patients move between home and hospitals. Excellent care is not just safe but also gives patients and carers confidence to feel safe. We do not really understand how to achieve this in care shared between generalists and specialist services. Quality improvement research can help get this understanding.



  • Apply interpersonal relationship-focused research methods to study care
  • Study who talks to whom, when and how this affects care and what works for patients and carers in care shared between specialists and generalists
  • Explore and explain successful and unsuccessful improvements

Design and methods

Patient and public engagement occurs throughout the study. In Palliative Care and Psychiatry, I will:

  • Examine how improvement tools are used in practice to consider what might work better
  • Use Egonetworks (a research concept) to study relationships and what happens as a result of these, interviewing patients, carers and professionals from different healthcare settings to understand different views and experiences
  • Examine data with a group of patients, carers and professionals using Change Laboratory (a research tool) to determine how to improve care and define success.


  • Understanding of examples of good, and not so good, care, including how and why.
  • Research methods and practice recommendations for improving care.

Host university
Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, UCL Division of Psychiatry, University College London

PRIME Centre, PISA Group and Marie Curie Research Centre (MCRC), Cardiff University

Collaborator & co-funder
Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust

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