Perspective: a culture of respect, part 2: creating a culture of respect

Acad Med. 2012 Jul;87(7):853-8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182583536.


Creating a culture of respect is the essential first step in a health care organization's journey to becoming a safe, high-reliability organization that provides a supportive and nurturing environment and a workplace that enables staff to engage wholeheartedly in their work. A culture of respect requires that the institution develop effective methods for responding to episodes of disrespectful behavior while also initiating the cultural changes needed to prevent such episodes from occurring. Both responding to and preventing disrespect are major challenges for the organization's leader, who must create the preconditions for change, lead in establishing and enforcing policies, enable frontline worker engagement, and facilitate the creation of a safe learning environment.When disrespectful behavior occurs, it must be addressed consistently and transparently. Central to an effective response is a code of conduct that establishes unequivocally the expectation that everyone is entitled to be treated with courtesy, honesty, respect, and dignity. The code must be enforced fairly through a clear and explicit process and applied consistently regardless of rank or station.Creating a culture of respect requires action on many fronts: modeling respectful conduct; educating students, physicians, and nonphysicians on appropriate behavior; conducting performance evaluations to identify those in need of help; providing counseling and training when needed; and supporting frontline changes that increase the sense of fairness, transparency, collaboration, and individual responsibility.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Health Facility Administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations* / ethics
  • Leadership
  • Morals
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Professional-Patient Relations* / ethics
  • Quality Improvement
  • Social Behavior*