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One method utilised to improve the quality of health care is accreditation. Although accreditation has been extensively used in the acute care sector, its presence in primary care is limited and so is our understanding of its nature, uptake and associated outcomes. Because acute care and primary care environments are vastly different, our understanding of acute care accreditation cannot simply be translated to primary care. The purpose of this paper was to explore the current state of primary care accreditation. An extensive search was completed examining peer-reviewed and grey literature. In addition, interviews with key stakeholders involved in primary care accreditation were undertaken. From the 501 reviewed abstracts, 62 papers were used in this review in addition to 72 sources from grey literature. Eight interviews were also held with key informants. In this review of the available literature of accreditation within primary care, it was found that accreditation in this sector is generally non-government funded and voluntary with some countries offering financial incentives. It was evident that there is a dearth of research on the nature and uptake of accreditation in this sector, along with how accreditation affects outcomes of care, whether it is an effective method to improve quality, perceptions of care, healthcare utilisation and costs. These findings imply that further research is required to examine the possible impact accreditation may have on health care within primary care.


Maeve O'Beirne, Karen Zwicker, Pam D Sterling, Jana Lait, Helen Lee Robertson, Nelly D Oelke. The status of accreditation in primary care. Quality in primary care. 2013;21(1):23-31

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PMID: 23735631

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