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 Quality in Public Health, Unit A

​​​​​​​Unit A: Defining Quality and the Quality Continuum

This module provides a description of key characteristics of quality, quality assurance, and quality improvement.  Explore different approaches (Lean, Six Sigma, etc.) that can be used in public health to improve quality and walk through examples that apply the concepts and tools.​

Learning Objectives

  • Describe characteristics of quality, including consistency, timeliness, stakeholder expectations, and technical specifications

  • Compare Quality Assurance (QA)/Quality Control (QC) and Quality Improvement

  • Explore methods and approaches to improve quality, including the PDSA Cycle, Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and theories of Organizational Effectiveness

  • Consider how quality methods may be applied in public health

  • Describe the quality continuum, the performance management cycle, and open feedback systems​

  1. Defining Quality – Anita Farel, DrPH, MSW, 2015. (~20 minutes)

  2. The Quality Continuum – Anita Farel, DrPH, MSW, 2015. (~15 minutes)

  3. Tackling a National Embarrassment, NICHQ CoIIN, January 2015. (~8 minutes)

  4. The Domestic Lean Goddess – Getting the Kids to School on Time (PDSA Cycle), Quality Improvement Organization Program (QIO), 2013​.​ (~6 minutes)


  1. Honoré PA, Wright D, Berwick DM, Carolyn M. Clancy CM, Lee P, Juleigh Nowinski J and HK Koh. “Creating a Framework For Getting Quality Into The Public Health System.” Health Affairs, 30, no.4 (2011):737-74560

  2. Quality Improvement in Public Health: It Works! American Public Health Association.

  3. Roadmap to a Culture of Quality Improvement, National Association of County and City Health Officials, 2012.


  1. Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality​

  2. NICHQ, CoIIN​

Complete Module (pg.15-18)


The National MCH Workforce Development Center is funded by a cooperative agreement (#UE7MC26282) with the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau.