QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Quality Improvement Methods

16. Force Field Analysis

a. Definition Change, such as quality improvements, is affected by factors which hinder or support what is desired. Force field analysis is a way to look at the factors (forces) which move the change in the desired direction or hinder it. By recognizing these contrasting forces, a decision regarding the change can be better prioritized, made and explained. It is a tool that can be used in conjunction with other decision making tools and tools for understanding the system involved.

b. Literature

Bozak, Mariylinn G. "Using Lewin's force field analysis in implementing a nursing information system." Computers Informatics Nursing 21.2 (2003): 80-85.

Lewin, Kurt. "Force field analysis." The 1973 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators (1946): 111-13. Baulcomb, Jean Sandra. "Management of change through force field analysis." Journal of nursing management 11.4 (2003): 275-280.

c. Example

A hospital is considering adding new equipment which brings in new technology. Various groups have strong feelings about the idea and management wishes to achieve a consensus before making the decision. A force field analysis is a way to organize, display and discuss the contrasting issues.

 Force field analysis

e. Steps

1. Identify a particular problem area needing change or improvement

2. Through discussion with the people who are familiar with the particular area, gather information about factors supporting the change and forces opposing change.

3. Review the information with a group using the force field diagram to visually assist in brainstorming or a free discussion

4. Rate the individual forces in terms of relative strength

5. Develop a strategy to support the positive factors and weaken the negative ones using the relative weightings for setting the priority. Alternatively, use the information on a holistic basis without the numerical scores.