CPHQ Certification

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The Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) examination is administered by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ), which was founded in 1976.[1] The NAHQ formed a Certificate Board committee in 1981, and the certification program was launched in 1983.[1] In that year, 226 testers took the Certified Professional in Quality Assurance (CPQA) examination.[1] In 1992, the CPQA credential was given its current name, CPHQ.[1]

The NAHQ conducts periodic Practice Analyses to determine which skills and proficiencies are most important to practicing CPHQ professionals. The results of these studies are used to modify the contents of the CPHQ exam to best match the state of the art. The most recent revision to the CPHQ content outline went into effect on January 1, 2018.[2]

Function of the Test

CPHQ Study Guide

The CPHQ is a certification examination for healthcare quality professionals. Candidates for the certification have a career focus in healthcare quality or patient safety. As a professional credential, the CPHQ certification typically isn't a precondition of employment, but certification holders may find that the CPHQ provides career benefits by identifying them as individuals with knowledge of the principles and practice of healthcare quality.[3]

Since 1983, more than 19,340 candidates have taken the CPHQ (or, formerly, the CPQA) examination, of whom about 70% passed the examination. There are more than 7,300 active CPHQs practicing worldwide.[1]

Test Administration

CPHQ Flashcards

There are no formal eligibility criteria such as minimum education or experience requirements for taking the CPHQ exam. Anyone in the field of healthcare quality may apply to take the examination.[3] The exam fee for NAHQ members who pay online is $399. The fee for non members who chose to pay online is $469. Candidates may also pay by check, but this will add a $25 fee to the cost of the examination[3]

After successfully applying to take the examination, candidates have 90 days in which to schedule an exam appointment. The CPHQ exam is a computer-based examination which is offered year-round at more than 130 AMP testing centers across the United States.[3][4] Candidates must bring two forms of identification to the testing center, including at least one photo ID.[3]

Candidates have three hours in which to complete the examination.[3] Because the examination is not adaptive, candidates may go back to review earlier questions and change their answers if they wish to.[3]

Unsuccessful candidates who wish to retake the examination must wait 90 days from the date they last sat the examination before they become eligible to apply to take the examination again.[3] Repeat candidates must pay the full examination fee and submit a new application.[3] Candidates who require special accommodations for a disability should request these accommodations from AMP directly. Forms titled "Request for Special Examination Accommodations" and "Documentation of Disability-Related Needs" are available in the CPHQ candidate handbook to guide this process.[3]

Test Format

Sections of the CPHQ Test [2]
Subject Areas # of Questions
Organizational Leadership 35
Health Data Analytics 30
Performance and Process Improvement 40
Patient Safety 20
Total # 125

Test Environment

For admission, candidates must present at least two forms of identification, one of which needs to be a photograph ID. One of the ID's is required to be either a drivers license, state ID, passport, or military identification. Personal items, except for wallets and keys, are not permitted in the testing room. Coats, watches, hats, etc... must be kept in a locker provided by the testing service. Scratch paper and pencils will be provided for the test, however the scratch paper must be returned in order to receive exam scores. Eating, drinking, or smoking are not permitted in the testing center.[3]

Test Structure

The CPHQ exam is a multiple choice, computer based exam. It is made up of 140 questions, though 15 of them are unscored, pretest questions. All 140 items will deal with four major content areas: Organizational Leadership; Health Data Analytics; Performance and Process Improvement; and Patient Safety. All 140 questions will be in the form of one of three types. There are application questions, which requires the test-taker to apply and interpret information; recall questions, which ask the test-taker specific definitions, concepts, and facts; and, lastly, analysis questions, which tests a candidate's problem solving ability in a specific area of knowledge. The exam allows three hours to be completed.[3]

Sample Questions

More free CPHQ practice test questions.


The CPHQ exam comprises 140 questions, of which 15 are unscored pretest questions being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the exam.[3] The exam is scored using the Angoff method. A panel of experts evaluates every question to determine its difficulty and to determine how many correct answers are necessary to demonstrate adequate knowledge and skills to achieve certification.[3]

There is no penalty for guessing. Omitted answers and incorrect answers are counted the same way.[3]

There is no single raw passing score or percentage. Candidates' raw scores are transformed into a statistically-equated scaled score which accounts for different difficulty levels on different forms of the exam. As such, candidates who took a harder version of the exam are scored more leniently than candidates who took an easier version of the exam. The NAHQ does not publish exactly how scores are scaled or exactly what constitutes a "passing" score.[3]

Approximately 70% of candidates pass the examination.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f History of the NAHQ 29 March 2018
  2. ^ a b CPHQ Content Outline 30 March 2018
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p CPHQ 2018 Handbook 27 March 2018
  4. ^ Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality Examination Test Center List 30 March 2018

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