Conflict is not Common in Our Workplace
Author DetailsShirley M. Newberry, PhD, RN; Rebecca L. Inglis MSN, RN; Ana M. Schaper PhD, RN
Date of Publication2012-01-04
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(41st Biennial Convention) Purpose: To describe results of a baseline assessment of conflict in the workplace and present implications for initiating an intervention program. A national survey (Dewitty et al, 2009) indicated that 53% of nurses reported conflict as "common"� or "very common" in the workplace. Conflict situations can lead to poor patient outcomes. To improve patient care quality and safety, a conflict engagement program, developed by the Center for American Nurses (centerforamericannurses.org), was implemented. A first step was to assess staff nurses' perceptions of conflict prevalence and type, and to gain insights into their interpretation of the baseline data. Methods: Survey Monkey was utilized to distribute the survey to 1,174 staff nurses (52% return rate). In focus groups nurses discussed survey results compared with national data. Results: Survey results demonstrated that 36% of staff nurses reported conflict as "common"� or "very common"� with an additional 49% rating conflict as "somewhat common"�. Hospital nurses reported more conflict than clinic nurses, but there were no generational differences. Conflict occurred most commonly nurse to nurse and between nurse and physician. Focus group data suggested that conflict was narrowly defined as overt confrontation based on past negative experiences, and was more prevalent than reported. The majority of write-in comments (44%) indicated that nurses believed all conflict was negative and should be avoided. Conclusion: Providing nurses with a clear definition of conflict and examples of positive outcomes when conflict exists are key to preparing for a conflict engagement intervention program. While a low level of conflict appears ideal, conflict can lead to innovation. A clear definition of conflict and understanding of its value may result in higher reports of conflict in the workplace. References: Dewitty, V. P., Osborne, J. W., Friesen, M. A., & Rosenkranz, A. (2009). Workforce conflict: What's the problem? Nursing Management, 40(5), 31-37.