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OBJECTIVE: Little is known about which attributes the patients need when they wish to maximise their capability to partner safely in healthcare. We aimed to identify these attributes from the perspective of key opinion leaders. DESIGN: Delphi study involving indirect group interaction through a structured two-round survey. SETTING: International electronic survey. PARTICIPANTS: 11 (65%) of the 17 invited internationally recognised experts on patient safety completed the study. OUTCOME MEASURES: 50 patient attributes were rated by the Delphi panel for their ability to contribute maximally to safe health care. RESULTS: The panellists agreed that 13 attributes are important for patients who want to maximise the role of safe partners. These domains relate to: autonomy, awareness, conscientiousness, knowledge, rationality, responsiveness and vigilance; for example, important attributes of autonomy include the ability to speak up, freedom to act and ability to act independently. Spanning seven domains, the attributes emphasise intellectual attributes and, to a lesser extent, moral attributes. CONCLUSIONS: Whereas current safety discourses emphasise attributes of professionals, this study identified the patient attributes which key opinion leaders believe can maximise the capability of patients to partner safely in healthcare. Further research is needed that asks patients about the attributes they believe are most important.

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Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial.

APA Citation

Buetow, S., Davis, R., Callaghan, K., & Dovey, S. (2013). What attributes of patients affect their involvement in safety? A key opinion leaders’ perspective. BMJ Open, 3(8).