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To ensure quality of care delivery clinical supervision has been implemented in health services. While clinical supervision of health professionals has been shown to improve patient safety, its effect on other dimensions of quality of care is unknown. The purpose of this systematic review is to determine whether clinical supervision of health professionals improves effectiveness of care and patient experience.
Databases MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, EMBASE and AMED were searched from earliest date available. Additional studies were identified by searching of reference lists and citation tracking. Two reviewers independently applied inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality of each study was rated using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument. Data were extracted on effectiveness of care (process of care and patient health outcomes) and patient experience.
Seventeen studies across multiple health professions (medical (n = 4), nursing (n = 7), allied health (n = 2) and combination of nursing, medical and/or allied health (n = 4)) met the inclusion criteria. The clinical heterogeneity of the included studies precluded meta-analysis. Twelve of 14 studies investigating 38,483 episodes of care found that clinical supervision improved the process of care. This effect was most predominant in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and African health settings. Three of six studies investigating 1756 patients found that clinical supervision improved patient health outcomes, namely neurological recovery post cardiopulmonary resuscitation (n = 1) and psychological symptom severity (n = 2). None of three studies investigating 1856 patients found that clinical supervision had an effect on patient experience.
Clinical supervision of health professionals is associated with effectiveness of care. The review found significant improvement in the process of care that may improve compliance with processes that are associated with enhanced patient health outcomes. While few studies found a direct effect on patient health outcomes, when provided to mental health professionals clinical supervision may be associated with a reduction in psychological symptoms of patients diagnosed with a mental illness. There was no association found between clinical supervision and the patient experience.