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Purpose – This paper reviews prior definitions of the umbrella term ‘clinical governance’. The research question is: do clinical governance definitions adequately distinguish between governance, management and practice functions? Three definitions are introduced to replace that umbrella term.
Design/Methodology/Approach – Content analysis is applied to analyse twenty nine definitions of clinical governance from the perspective of the roles and responsibilities of those charged with governance, management and practice.
Findings – The analysis indicates that definitions of the umbrella term ‘clinical governance’ comprise a mixture of activities relating to governance, management and practice which is confusing for those expected to execute those roles.
Practical implications – Consistent with concepts from corporate governance, we distinguish between governance, management and practice. For effective governance, it is important that there be division of duties between governance roles and management and practice roles. These distinctions will help to clarify roles and responsibilities in the execution of clinical activities.
Originality/Value – Drawing on insights from corporate governance, in particular, the importance of a division of functions between governance roles, and management and practice roles, we propose three new definitions to replace the umbrella term ‘clinical governance’.