Communication and relationship dynamics in surgical teams in the operating room: an ethnographic study

Birgitte Tørring, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Mogens Laursen, Bodil Steen Rasmussen, Erik Elgaard Sørensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftsartikelForskningpeer review

Abstract

Background: In surgical teams, health professionals are highly interdependent and work under time pressure. It is of particular importance that teamwork is well-functioning in order to achieve quality treatment and patient safety. Relational coordination, defined as “communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration,” has been found to contribute to quality treatment and patient safety. Relational coordination has also been found to contribute to psychological safety and the ability to learn from mistakes. Although extensive research has been carried out regarding relational coordination in many contexts including surgery, no study has explored how relational coordination works at the micro level. The purpose of this study was to explore communication and relationship dynamics in interdisciplinary surgical teams at the micro level in contexts of variable complexity using the theory of relational coordination.
Methods: An ethnographic study was conducted involving participant observations of 39 surgical teams and 15 semi-structured interviews during a 10-month period in 2014 in 2 orthopedic operating units in a university hospital in Denmark. A deductively directed content analysis was carried out based on the theory of relational coordination.
Results: Four different types of collaboration in interdisciplinary surgical teams in contexts of variable complexity were identified representing different communication and relationship patterns: 1) proactive and intuitive communication, 2) silent and ordinary communication, 3) inattentive and ambiguous communication, 4) contradictory and highly dynamic communication. The findings suggest a connection between communication and relationship dynamics in surgical teams and the level of complexity of the surgical procedures performed.
Conclusion: The findings complement previous research on interdisciplinary teamwork in surgical teams and contribute to the theory of relational coordination. The findings offer a new typology of teams that goes beyond weak or strong relational coordination to capture four distinct patterns of relational coordination. In particular, the study highlights the central role of mutual respect and presents proposals for improving relational coordination in surgical teams.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer528
TidsskriftBMC Health Services Research
Vol/bind19
Antal sider16
ISSN1472-6963
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 29 jul. 2019

Emneord

  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv
  • Sygdom, sundhedsvidenskab og sygepleje

Citationsformater