Positive deviance: exploring strategies for dissemination and adoption using design methods

Yorkshire & Humber
Start Date: 1 May 2017 End Date: 15 Dec 2018

In healthcare we often focus on what goes wrong, where there is harm to the patient, and where individuals or systems have failed. A significant problem with this focus is that we have traditionally paid little attention to what goes right, and how to replicate these successes. This latter approach is called ‘positive deviance’. The EBT Theme is currently working on a project that will examine two key questions: i) can we use routinely collected quality and safety outcomes to identify ‘positive deviants’ - services and teams that provide exceptional care for patients?; and ii) what is it about those services and teams that results in this high quality care? This innovative project is a collaboration between a number of NHS trusts (including Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and the universities of Leeds and York. The ultimate aim is to share this knowledge to support services in making improvements in patient safety across the YH region, based on what works well rather than what went wrong. It will also provide health services with improvement methods focused on building system, team and individual ‘resilience’ and not just eradicating risk.

You can read about the positive deviance approach for patient safety improvement here:


Professor Paul Chamberlain