Training paediatric healthcare staff in recognising, understanding and managing conflict with patients and families: findings from a survey on immediate and 6-month impact

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Abstract

Background

Conflict is a recognised component of healthcare. Disagreements about treatment protocols, treatment aims and poor communication are recognised warning signs. Conflict management strategies can be used to prevent escalation, but are not a routine component of clinical training.

Objective

To report the findings from a novel training intervention, aimed at enabling paediatric staff to identify and understand the warning signs of conflict, and to implement conflict resolution strategies.

Design and setting

Self-report measures were taken at baseline, immediately after the training and at 6 months. Questionnaires recorded quantitative and qualitative feedback on the experience of training, and the ability to recognise and de-escalate conflict. The training was provided in a tertiary teaching paediatric hospital in England over 18 months, commencing in June 2013.

Intervention

A 4-h training course on identifying, understanding and managing conflict was provided to staff.

Results

Baseline data were collected from all 711 staff trained, and 6-month follow-up data were collected for 313 of those staff (44%). The training was successful in equipping staff to recognise and de-escalate conflict. Six months after the training, 57% of respondents had experienced conflict, of whom 91% reported that the training had enabled them to de-escalate the conflict. Learning was retained at 6 months with staff more able than at baseline recognising conflict triggers (Fischer's exact test, p=0.001) and managing conflict situations (Pearson's χ2 test, p=0.001).

Conclusions

This training has the potential to reduce substantially the human and economic costs of conflicts for healthcare providers, healthcare staff, patients and relatives.

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