Conflict prevention, conflict mitigation, and manifestations of conflict during emergency department consultations

Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Mar;21(3):308-13. doi: 10.1111/acem.12325.


Objectives: The objective was to determine the causes of and mitigating factors for conflict between emergency physicians and other colleagues during consultations.

Methods: From March to September 2010, a total of 61 physicians (31 residents and 30 attendings from emergency medicine [EM], internal medicine, and general surgery) were interviewed about how junior learners should be taught about emergency department (ED) consultations. During these interviews, they were asked if and how conflict manifests during the ED consultation process. Two investigators reviewed the transcripts independently to generate themes related to conflict until saturation was reached. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. The trustworthiness of the analysis was ensured by generating an audit trail, which was subsequently audited by an investigator not involved with the initial analysis. This analysis was compared to previously proposed models of trust and conflict from the sociology and business literature.

Results: All participants recalled some manifestation of conflict. There were 12 negative conflict-producing themes and 10 protective conflict-mitigating themes. When comparing these themes to a previously developed model of the domains of trust, each theme mapped to domains of the model.

Conclusions: Conflict affects the ED consultation process. Areas that lead to conflict are identified that map to previous models of trust and conflict. This work extends the current understanding about intradisciplinary conflict in the clinical realm. These new findings may improve the understanding of the nature of conflicts that occur and form the foundation for interventions that may decrease conflict during ED consultations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Dissent and Disputes*
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • General Surgery
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine
  • Internship and Residency
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians*
  • Referral and Consultation*