An Evaluation of Shared Mental Models and Mutual Trust on General Medical Units: Implications for Collaboration, Teamwork, and Patient Safety
This study examines nurse-physician teamwork and collaboration, a critical component in the delivery of safe patient care, on general medical units. To that end, we assess shared mental models and mutual trust, 2 coordinating mechanisms that help facilitate teamwork, among nurses and physicians working on general medical units.Methods
Data were collected from 37 nurses and 42 physicians at an urban teaching medical center in the Northeastern United States. Shared mental model questionnaire items were iteratively developed with experts' input to ensure content validity. Mutual trust items were adapted from an existing scale; items were reliable. Data were analyzed using χ2 and independent 2-tailed t tests.Results
Physicians and nurses reported significant differences in their perceptions of the professional responsible for a variety of roles (e.g., advocating for the patient [P = 0.0007], identifying a near miss/error [P = 0.003]). Medication reconciliation is only role for which nurses perceive less responsibility than physicians perceive nurses have. Regarding mutual trust, both groups reported significantly more trust within their own professions; both groups reported similar levels of trust in physicians, with physicians reporting significantly less trust in their nursing colleagues than nurses perceive (P < 0.0001).Conclusions
Although many efforts have been directed at improving nurse-physician collaboration, more work is needed. To that end, we propose increasing knowledge about their respective roles, providing opportunities for nurse and physician collaboration through rounding or committee work and enhancing the preparedness and professionalism of interactions.