A literature review of conflict communication causes, costs, benefits and interventions in nursing

J Nurs Manag. 2010 Mar;18(2):145-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2010.01061.x.


Aim: This paper reviews the literature on conflict communication in nursing in order to prioritize research, theory and interventions that will support nurse managers and staff nurses.

Background: Conflict is pervasive in nursing and has many costs, including burnout, higher absenteeism and higher turnover. Increased and more effective use of conflict management seems important in sustaining and developing the field.

Methods: The literature study focused on the intersection of nursing, communication and conflict. The review primarily drew from the nursing and communication disciplines.

Results: While much is known about the sources and costs of conflict in nursing, more can be done to research the benefits of conflict and intervene effectively.

Conclusions: Conflict is a routine feature of nursing. Nonetheless, sources can be managed, costs decreased and benefits increased with indirect and direct interventions.

Implications for nursing management: Nurse managers can support themselves and others in working through conflict by normalizing conflict, employing proven proactive and reactive interventions and by helping to build integrated conflict management systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Communication*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Economics, Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Nurse Administrators / economics*
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Nursing, Supervisory / economics
  • Occupational Health
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States