Nurse/Physician Conflict Management Mode Choices: Implications for Improved Collaborative Practice

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In today's complex healthcare organizations, conflicts between physicians and nurses occur daily. Consequently, organizational conflict has grown into a major subfield of organizational behavior. Researchers have claimed that conflict has a beneficial effect on work group function and identified collaboration as one of the intervening variables that may explain the relationship between magnet hospitals and positive patient outcomes. The purpose of this study was to identify and compare conflict mode choices of physicians and head nurses in acute care hospitals and examine the relationship of conflict mode choices with their background characteristics. In a cross-sectional correlational study, 75 physicians and 54 head nurses in 5 hospitals were surveyed, using the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. No difference was found between physicians and nurses in choice of the most frequently used mode in conflict management. The compromising mode was found to be the significantly most commonly chosen mode (P = .00) by both. Collaborating was chosen significantly more frequently among head nurses (P = .001) and least frequently among physicians (P = .00). Most of the respondents' characteristics were not found to be correlated with mode choices. The findings indicate a need to enhance partnerships in the clinical environment to ensure quality patient care and staff satisfaction.

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