Perceptions of operating room tension across professions: building generalizable evidence and educational resources

Acad Med. 2005 Oct;80(10 Suppl):S75-9. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200510001-00021.


Background: Effective team communication is critical in health care, yet no curriculum exists to teach it. Naturalistic research has revealed systematic patterns of tension and profession-specific interpretation of operating room team communication. Replication of these naturalistic findings in a controlled, video-based format could provide a basis for formal curricula.

Method: Seventy-two surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists independently rated three video-based scenarios for the three professions' level of tension, responsibility for creating tension and responsibility for resolution. Data were analyzed using three-way, mixed-design analyses of variance.

Results: The three professions rated tension levels of the various scenarios similarly (F=1.19, ns), but rated each profession's responsibility for creating (F=2.86, p<.05) and resolving (F=1.91, p<.01) tension differently, often rating their profession as having relatively less responsibility than the others.

Conclusions: These results provide an evidence base for team communications training about tension patterns, disparity of professional perspectives, and implications for team function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / education
  • Canada
  • Communication*
  • Curriculum
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Multimedia*
  • Operating Room Nursing / education
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • United States