Critical Pathways for continuous quality improvement: a multicentric analysis on the management of patients with lung cancer in Italian best performing hospitals


quality improvement
critical pathway
lung cancer
patient management


Introduction: Critical pathways (CPs) are effective change management tools used to improve quality in healthcare nationally implemented in Italy in 2015. This study aims to map the country’s state-of-the-art regarding the adoption of CPs and to verify the existence of factors that determine the success of their implementation and the relative entity of their impact, by analysing the management of Lung Cancer (LC) as a case-study.

Methods: Our methodology followed the SQUIRE guidelines for quality improvement reporting (2015). Starting from the 2017 ranking table published by the National Outcome Program, we selected and included in our sample all Italian hospitals who, according to Ministerial Decree n. 70/2015, met national quality threshold  for LC treatment. To investigate regional-level and hospital-level factors believed to be responsible for the successful implementation of a CP, a Google Modules questionnaire was constructed and sent to the selected facilities; subsequently, a web-based research was carried out for missing data.  Associations between variables were tested in STATA by means of correlation tests and a linear regression model. 

Results: 41 hospitals matched our inclusion criteria. Of these, 68% defined an internal Lung Cancer Critical Pathway (LCCP). Our results confirmed the presence of critical success factors that favour the correct implementation of a LCCP.

Conclusions: Notwithstanding the availability of CPs, their adoption in routine clinical practice still lacks consistency, suggesting the necessity to resort to digital solutions, to increment the level of regional commitment and workforce commitment and to reinforce quality standards monitoring.


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