Heike Schutze

Heike Schutze

Australian Health Services Research Institute

Title: Using unnounced standardised patients as a quality improvement tool to improve primary care


Heike Schütze is a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research interests include health services research, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, indigenous health, health inequity, translational research, and the prevention and management of chronic disease.


Aim: To improve the quality and appropriateness of targeted care in general practice for Aboriginal patients using unannounced standardised patients (USP).

Methods: This research was a mixed-methods multiple-site case study. USPs from the local Aboriginal communities anonymously attended general practices. Data from these visits were combined with data from focus groups, clinical records audit, interviews and surveys with practitioners and staff, and best practice guidelines, and were used to develop a tailor-made intervention to improve the acceptability and appropriateness of care provided to Aboriginal patients in general practice.

Findings: Most practices improved their Indigenous-status identification processes and provided more acceptable and appropriately targeted care to their Aboriginal patients. The use of USPs as a quality improvement tool was acceptable to providers and staff and provided the local Aboriginal communities a voice regarding the care they received.

Implications/Conclusions: USPs provide direct patient feedback whilst overcoming many of the inherent biases found in other research methods. Using USPs from the local Aboriginal communities ensured relevance with their priorities and was central to the uptake of the intervention. The method can be adapted as a tool for improving access to primary health care to other minority and marginalised populations.

Recent Publications:

Schütze H;Pulver LJ;Harris M, 2016, 'The uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments fails to improve in some areas', Australian Family Physician, vol. 45, pp. 415 - 420

Schtze H;Rix EF;Laws RA;Passey M;Fanaian M;Harris MF, 2012, 'How feasible are lifestyle modification programs for disease prevention in general practice?', Australian Journal of Primary Health, vol. 18, pp. 129 - 137,

Harris MF;Fanaian M;Jayasinghe UW;Passey ME;McKenzie SH;Davies GP;Lyle DM;Laws RA;Schütze H;Wan Q, 2012, 'A cluster randomised controlled trial of vascular risk factor management in general practice', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 197, pp. 387 - 393,

Denney-Wilson E;Fanaian M;Wan Q;Vagholkar S;Schütze H;Harris M, 2010, 'Lifestyle risk factors in general practice: Routine assessment and management', Australian Family Physician, vol. 39, pp. 950 - 953