Patient safety content and delivery in pre-registration nursing curricula: A national cross-sectional survey study

Kim Usher, Cindy Woods, Jane Conway, Jackie Lea, Vicki Parker, Fiona Barrett, Eilish O'Shea, Debra Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)



Patient safety is a core principle of health professional practice and as such requires significant attention within undergraduate curricula. However, patient safety practice is complex requiring a broad range of skills and behaviours including the application of sound clinical knowledge within a range of health care contexts and cultures. There is very little research that explores how this is taught within Australian nursing curricula.


To examine how Australian nursing curricula address patient safety; identify where and how patient safety learning occurs; and describe who is responsible for facilitating this learning.


A cross-sectional study.


Eighteen universities across seven Australian States and Territories.


The sample consisted of 18 nursing course coordinators or those responsible for the inclusion of patient safety content within a Bachelor of Nursing course at Australian universities.


An online survey was conducted to evaluate the patient safety content included and teaching methods used in Australian pre-registration nursing curricula.


Approaches to teaching patient safety vary considerably between universities where patient safety tended to be integrated within undergraduate nursing course subjects rather than explicitly taught in separate, stand-alone subjects. Three-quarters of the surveyed staff believed patient safety was currently being adequately covered in their undergraduate nursing curricula.


Although there is consensus in relation to the importance of patient safety across universities, and similarity in views about what knowledge, skills and attitudes should be taught, there were differences in: the amount of time allocated, who was responsible for the teaching and learning, and in which setting the learning occurred and was assessed. There was little indication of the existence of a systematic approach to learning patient safety, with most participants reporting emphasis on learning applied to infection control and medication safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-89
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


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