Attitudes of doctors and nurses towards incident reporting: a qualitative analysis

Med J Aust. 2004 Jul 5;181(1):36-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06158.x.


Objectives: (i) To examine attitudes of medical and nursing staff towards reporting incidents (adverse events and near-misses), and (ii) to identify measures to facilitate incident reporting.

Design: Qualitative study. In March 2002, semistructured questions were administered to five focus groups--one each for consultants, registrars, resident medical officers, senior nurses, and junior nurses.

Participants and setting: 14 medical and 19 nursing staff recruited using purposive sampling from three metropolitan public hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia.

Main outcome measures: Attitudes and barriers to incident reporting; differences in reporting behaviour between disciplines; how to facilitate incident reporting.

Results: Cultural differences between doctors and nurses, identified using Triandis' theory of social behaviour, were found to underpin attitudes to incident reporting. Nurses reported more habitually than doctors due to a culture which provided directives, protocols and the notion of security, whereas the medical culture was less transparent, favoured dealing with incidents "in-house" and was less reliant on directives. Common barriers to reporting incidents included time constraints, unsatisfactory processes, deficiencies in knowledge, cultural norms, inadequate feedback, beliefs about risk, and a perceived lack of value in the process.

Conclusions: Strategies to improve incident reporting must address cultural issues.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Focus Groups
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Motivation
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Management*
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Facilitation
  • Social Perception
  • South Australia