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Should You Participate in AHRQ SOPS™ Data Submission

The decision to participate in the AHRQ national compare survey database is not always easy. Do you wonder how your data will be used?

The decision to participate in national compare dataset can make anyone feel uneasy or uncertain about how their information will be used. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) first released the Survey on Patient Safety™ (SOPS™) for hospitals in 2004. Since that time, they have worked diligently to create additional surveys, each supported by a structured repository of survey results, and extensive resources to improve culture. AHRQ’s data vendor, Westat, maintains the repository.  

The AHRQ SOPS™ remain the most widely used healthcare culture surveys in the world. The surveys have been translated into multiple languages and are free to access on their website, making them available to organizations with even the most limited resources. Another advantage to using SOPS™ is the availability of benchmarks. Benchmarks provide an opportunity for organizations to compare themselves to others, a valuable step on the path to high reliability. 

Every two years, AHRQ offers an open data submission period. They collect survey data voluntarily provided by organizations that have administered a SOPS™. The data is aggregated and assessed, and summary reports are released that highlight general industry strengths and opportunities for improvement.  

AHRQ uses collected data in two ways: 

  1. The data is used in research. Deidentified survey data is provided to researchers and others with a desire to generally explore the findings, compare to previous data, and evaluate with other healthcare measures. Researchers receive the survey results along with minimum demographic information about the participating organization (i.e. general geographic location, bed size, ownership status). Researchers do not receive information on individual organizations. 
  1. The data is used for benchmarks. Survey data is aggregated, deidentified, and benchmarks are developed and released in AHRQ’s biennual summary report 

This fall, AHRQ has an open submission period for organizations that administered the Hospital SOPS™ during the last two years. Any organization can utilize the free online portal to upload a CSV data file. For more details on submission requirements, click here. 


Deciding whether to participate is not always a simple decision. Consider the following: 

  1. Did you administer the Hospital SOPS™ survey in the last two years? 
  2. Did you keep the core questions of the survey the same?  
  3. Do you have resources to compile the data into the appropriate format? 
  4. Did you use benchmarks to evaluate your results and compare to others?
If you answered yes to the questions above, you should consider contributing to the national dataset. Not only will your participation support and maintain the quality of future benchmarks, but your organization will be a part of industry-wide learnings. If you choose to participate, your results are deidentified, including the removal of all comments prior to submission.  

Your organization may still choose not to participate because of the resource burden to prepare the data for upload, the skepticism of confidentiality of the data, or your survey does not meet the minimum requirements for participating in the dataset, and that is okay too.  

The Center for Patient Safety administers all of the ARHQ SOPS™ to organizations across the countryWe’ve found the greatest challenge in organization's participating in the compare dataset is the resources necessary to produce the format. If you used CPS to administer your survey in the last two years, we can handle the data submission process for you, but only with your permission. Let us know if you would like to participate in the upcoming compare dataset submission.