Peer Review Processes for Quality Improvement in Health Care Settings and Their Implications for Health Care Professionals: A Meta-Ethnography

Sammer Tang, Alexandra Bowles, Catherine Minns Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Peer review processes are used to improve professional practice in health care, although no synthesis of existing studies has yet been undertaken. These processes are included in the UK professional revalidation processes for medical practitioners and nurses and midwives but not for allied health professionals. The purpose of this review was to identify, appraise, and synthesize the available qualitative evidence regarding health care professionals' experiences and views about peer review processes and to explore the implications for health care professionals in the United Kingdom.

Methods: Qualitative review using meta-ethnography, reported according to Meta-ethnography Reporting Guidance guidance. Search strategy was developed using MeSH headings. The following data sources were searched: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, MEDLINE, and Ovid full text (between May 2007 and May 2019) (one reviewer with librarian support) plus manual searching. Screening, data extraction, and evaluation were undertaken independently by two reviewers. Studies were independently appraised for quality by two reviewers to identify concepts which were compared and developed into a conceptual model by the team.

Results: Thirteen studies (937 participants) were included. Findings explored peer review processes and three key components, namely, purpose, process, and peers. Participants' perceptions of peer review processes were categorized by four main concepts: value/benefits, reflection/shared learning, anxiety about the process, and how to improve "buy-in."

Discussion: Evidence supports the introduction and use of peer review processes as a quality improvement tool. Further research exploring whether/how to incorporate peer review processes into the process of assessing continuing fitness to practice for allied health professionals seems appropriate. The time and resources required to implement peer review processes are considered barriers to implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions (JCEHP)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • MeSH heading "peer review, health care"
  • fitness to practice
  • health care professionals
  • meta-ethnography
  • peer review processes
  • post registration education
  • qualitative


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