'Saying it without words': a qualitative study of oncology staff's experiences with speaking up about safety concerns.

Schwappach, D L B; Gehring, K (2014). 'Saying it without words': a qualitative study of oncology staff's experiences with speaking up about safety concerns. BMJ open, 4(5), e004740. BMJ Publishing Group 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004740

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OBJECTIVES

To explore the experiences of oncology staff with communicating safety concerns and to examine situational factors and motivations surrounding the decision whether and how to speak up using semistructured interviews.

SETTING

7 oncology departments of six hospitals in Switzerland.

PARTICIPANTS

Diverse sample of 32 experienced oncology healthcare professionals.

RESULTS

Nurses and doctors commonly experience situations which raise their concerns and require questioning, clarifying and correcting. Participants often used non-verbal communication to signal safety concerns. Speaking-up behaviour was strongly related to a clinical safety issue. Most episodes of 'silence' were connected to hygiene, isolation and invasive procedures. In contrast, there seemed to exist a strong culture to communicate questions, doubts and concerns relating to medication. Nearly all interviewees were concerned with 'how' to say it and in particular those of lower hierarchical status reflected on deliberate 'voicing tactics'.

CONCLUSIONS

Our results indicate a widely accepted culture to discuss any concerns relating to medication safety while other issues are more difficult to voice. Clinicians devote considerable efforts to evaluate the situation and sensitively decide whether and how to speak up. Our results can serve as a starting point to develop a shared understanding of risks and appropriate communication of safety concerns among staff in oncology.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwappach, David

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

2044-6055

Publisher:

BMJ Publishing Group

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2014 15:23

Last Modified:

10 Sep 2020 12:06

Publisher DOI:

10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004740

PubMed ID:

24838725

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.53407

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/53407

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