Patient safety in Marginalised Groups: A Narrative Scoping Review

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Background: Marginalised groups ('populations outside of mainstream society') experience severe health inequities, as well as increased risk of experiencing patient safety incidents. To date however no review exists to identify, map and analyse the literature in this area in order to understand 1) which marginalised groups have been studied in terms of patient safety research, 2) what the particular patient safety issues are for such groups and 3) what contributes to or is associated with these safety issues arising. Methods: Scoping review. Systematic searches were performed across six electronic databases in September 2019. The time frame for searches of the respective databases was from the year 2000 until present day. Results: The searches yielded 3346 articles, and 67 articles were included. Patient safety issues were identified for fourteen different marginalised patient groups across all studies, with 69% (n = 46) of the studies focused on four patient groups: ethnic minority groups, frail elderly populations, care home residents and low socio-economic status. Twelve separate patient safety issues were classified. Just over half of the studies focused on three issues represented in the patient safety literature, and in order of frequency were: medication safety, adverse outcomes and near misses. In total, 157 individual contributing or associated factors were identified and mapped to one of seven different factor types from the Framework of Contributory Factors Influencing Clinical Practice within the London Protocol. Patient safety issues were mostly multifactorial in origin including patient factors, health provider factors and health care system factors. Conclusions: This review highlights that marginalised patient groups are vulnerable to experiencing a variety patient safety issues and points to a number of gaps. The findings indicate the need for further research to understand the intersectional nature of marginalisation and the multi-dimensional nature of patient safety issues, for groups that have been under-researched, including those with mental health problems, communication and cognitive impairments. Such understanding provides a basis for working collaboratively to co-design training, services and/or interventions designed to remove or at the very least minimise these increased risks. Trial registration: Not applicable for a scoping review.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Pages (from-to)26
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
Early online date12 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • patient safety
  • marginalised groups
  • Marginalised groups
  • Contributory factors
  • Patient safety
  • Scoping review
  • Minority Groups
  • Nursing Homes
  • Poverty
  • Humans
  • Frail Elderly
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Social Class
  • Ethnicity
  • Patient Safety
  • Aged
  • Racial Groups


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