Choosing appropriate theories for understanding hospital reporting of adverse drug events, a theoretical domains framework approach

Document Type: Research article


1 Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Research Center for Rational Use of Drugs, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

3 Knowledge Utilization Research Center; Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Adverse drug events (ADEs) may cause serious injuries including death. Spontaneous reporting of ADEs plays a great role in detection and prevention of them, however, underreporting always exists. Although several interventions have been utilized to solve this problem, they are mainly based on experience and the rationale for choosing them has no theoretical base. The vast variety of behavioral theories makes it difficult to choose appropriate theory. Theoretical domains framework (TDF) is suggested as a solution. The objective of this study was to select the best theory for evaluating ADE reporting in hospitals based on TDF. We carried out three focus group discussions with hospital pharmacists and nurses, based on TDF questions. The analysis was performed through five steps including coding discussions transcript, extracting beliefs, selecting relevant domains, matching related constructs to the extracted beliefs and determining the appropriate theories in each domain. The theory with the highest number of matched domains and constructs was selected as the theory of choice. A total of six domains were identified relevant to ADE reporting, including “Knowledge”, “Skills”, “Beliefs about consequences”, “Motivation and goals”, “Environmental context and resources” and “Social influences”. We found theory of planned behavior as the comprehensive theory to study factors influencing ADE reporting in hospitals, since it was relevant theory in five out of six relevant domains and the common theory in 55 out of 75 identified beliefs. In conclusion, we suggest theory of planned behavior for further studies on designing appropriate interventions to increase ADE reporting in hospitals.


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