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Title: Pathways to professionalism? Quality improvement, care pathways, and the interplay of standardization and clinical autonomy
Authors: Martin, Graham P.
Kocman, David
Stephens, Timothy
Peden, Carol J.
Pearse, Rupert M.
First Published: 21-Jun-2017
Publisher: Wiley for Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness
Citation: Sociology of Health and Illness, 2017
Abstract: Care pathways are a prominent feature of efforts to improve healthcare quality, outcomes and accountability, but sociological studies of pathways often find professional resistance to standardization. This qualitative study examined the adoption and adaptation of a novel pathway as part of a randomized controlled trial in an unusually complex, non-linear field— emergency general surgery—by teams of surgeons and physicians in six theoretically sampled sites in the UK. We find near-universal receptivity to the concept of a pathway as a means of improving peri-operative processes and outcomes, but concern about the impact on appropriate professional judgement. However, this concern translated not into resistance and implementation failure, but into a nuancing of the pathways-as-realized in each site, and their use as a means of enhancing professional decision-making and inter-professional collaboration. We discuss our findings in the context of recent literature on the interplay between managerialism and professionalism in healthcare, and highlight practical and theoretical implications.
DOI Link: 10.1111/1467-9566.12585
ISSN: 0141-9889
eISSN: 1467-9566
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Health Sciences

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