Passing laws is not enough to change staff practice: The case of legally mandated “incident” reporting in Sweden

Petra Björne, Roy Deveau, Lena Nylander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It is mandatory for staff in Swedish community services for people with intellectual disabilities to report incidents of error or malpractice. Aim: The aim is to study if incident reports contribute to developing quality in services for people with intellectual disabilities who present with challenging behaviours. Method: 159 reports on incidents from group homes and daily activities services were accessed and analysed using narrative thematic analysis. Results: Most reports concerned altercations between service users. Analysis focused mainly on the immediate incident and attributes of service users. Amendments were not (obviously) aligned with causes, and neither sufficiently addressed structural shortcomings. Restrictive measures were described, but changes in practices were not mentioned. Reports including Self-injurious behaviour (SIB) were conspicuously absent. Conclusion: Reports are handled in a seemingly perfunctory manner, without any development. Quality development relying on staff reports and front-line managers’ investigations requires support based on values rather than on the legal framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Issue number2
Early online date2021 Feb 14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • challenging behaviours
  • incident reporting
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • quality development
  • trauma


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