Relational coordination among nurses and other providers: impact on the quality of patient care

J Nurs Manag. 2010 Nov;18(8):926-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2010.01138.x. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Aim: The present study examined nurse reports of relational coordination between nurses and other providers and the impact of relational coordination on patient care quality.

Background: While communication between providers has been traditionally considered important to improve quality, relational coordination extends this view, emphasising the value of high-quality relationships exemplified by shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect; and high-quality communication that is timely, frequent, accurate and problem-solving.

Methods: Direct care registered nurses (RNs) (n=747) completed surveys to assess relational coordination across five provider functions and six types of patient care units. Nurses also reported perceptions about patient care quality.

Results: In all analyses, relational coordination between nurses and other providers was significantly related to overall quality, in the expected directions. As relational coordination increased, nurses reported decreases in adverse events such as hospital-acquired infections and medication errors.

Conclusions: Enhancing relational coordination between nurses and other providers is central to improving the quality of patient care. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSE MANAGERS AND NEW KNOWLEDGE: The emerging theory of relational coordination provides a useful new research-based framework for managers to use to improve provider relationships, communication and the quality of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Hospitals, Community / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Nurse Administrators
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Pennsylvania
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*