Positive deviance and common sense

When I first heard about “positive deviance” (and learned that research funding was being distributed to study it), I assumed it was a new, high-level approach to quality improvement that I needed to master. But every time I read about it, or asked someone to explain it to me, it seemed very much like common sense…..empower people to change things for the better, then recognize and learn from those who succeed.

So I enjoyed this article about positive deviance from the Boston Globe, loaded with examples (several from healthcare settings). The first sentence of the last paragraph sums it up for me:
“At bottom, positive deviance amounts to simple common sense”

Many of the controversial infection control approaches we discuss in this blog are best understood as the opposites of positive deviance. I’m thinking of legislative mandates and other dogmatic, punitive approaches to infection control (e.g. legislation requiring hospitals to adopt a single approach to MRSA control, mandating an annual vaccine under threat of dismissal, etc.).

Any of you out there who consider yourselves black-belt positive deviants, feel free to enlighten me about its many complexities.


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