Communication and teamwork in patient care: how much can we learn from aviation?

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2006 Jul-Aug;35(4):538-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2006.00074.x.


Objective: To identify evidence on the role of assertiveness and teamwork and the application of aviation industry techniques to improve patient safety for inpatient obstetric care.

Data sources: Studies limited to research with humans in English language retrieved from CINAHL, PubMed, Social Science Abstracts, and Social Sciences Citation Index, and references from reviewed articles.

Study selection: A total of 13 studies were reviewed, including 5 studies of teamwork, communication, and safety attitudes in aviation; 2 studies comparing these factors in aviation and health care; and 6 studies of assertive behavior and decision making by nurses. Studies lacking methodological rigor or focusing on medication errors and deviant behavior were excluded.

Data synthesis: Pilot attitudes regarding interpersonal interaction on the flight deck predicted effective performance and were amenable to behavior-based training to improve team performance. Nursing knowledge was inconsistently accessed in decision making. Findings regarding nurse assertiveness were mixed.

Conclusions: Adaptation of training concepts and safety methods from other fields will have limited impact on perinatal safety without an examination of the contextual experiences of nurses and other health care providers in working to prevent patient harm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation
  • Assertiveness
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Aviation
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Medical Errors / nursing
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Errors / psychology
  • Nurse's Role / psychology
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Obstetrics / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Physician's Role / psychology
  • Professional Competence
  • Psychology, Industrial
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Self Concept