Quality Improvement (QI), Quality Assurance (QA), Program Evaluation (PE), or Research?

It can be difficult to determine whether a project is quality improvement (QI), quality assurance (QA), program evaluation (PE), or research. Generally speaking, quality improvement or program evaluation activities are understood to be those things relating to the assessment, management, or improvement of a local program or process within an institution or unit - in order to make improvements specifically in that institution or unit. On the other hand, research projects are designed to produce generalizable knowledge about particular questions, processes, interventions, etc. QI/QA/PE projects may be conducted at the discretion of the institution or unit; however, research projects are required to undergo Research Ethics Board review.

Oftentimes, this is not a straightforward question to answer. However, it is very important that a determination is made as soon as you have a new project in mind. For example, if you are conducting a 'QI project' that is actually a research project, you are technically in violation of UCalgary ethical policies - as all research projects require ethics approval. The Research Ethics Board cannot grant retrospective ethics approval.

To determine whether or not your project is QI,QA, PE, or research, please work through Steps 1-3 on this webpage.

Step-by-step instructions for submitting a formal request for exemption from Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (CHREB) review are found here.

The intent to publish or present is generally not presumed at the outset of a QI, QA, or PE project. Dissemination of project results typically does not occur beyond the institution or unit involved.

Dissemination of project results may occur in quality improvement publications/fora.  When published or presented to a wider audience, the intent is to suggest potentially effective models, strategies, assessment tools or to provide benchmarks or base rates - rather than to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.