Achieving a climate for patient safety by focusing on relationships

Int J Qual Health Care. 2014 Dec;26(6):579-84. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzu068. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Objective: Despite many initiatives, advances in patient safety remain uneven in part because poor relationships among health professionals have not been addressed. The purpose of this study was to determine whether relationships between health professionals contributed to a patient safety climate, after implementation of an intervention to improve inter-professional collaboration.

Design/setting: This was a secondary analysis of data collected to evaluate the Interprofessional Model of Patient Care (IPMPC) at The Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada, which consists of five sites. A series of generalized estimating equation models were generated, accounting for the clustering of responses by site.

Participants: Thirteen health professionals including physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and others (n = 1896) completed anonymous surveys about 1 year after the IPMPC was introduced.

Intervention: The IPMPC was implemented to improve interdisciplinary collaboration.

Main outcome measures: Reliable instruments were used to measure collaboration, respect, inter-professional conflict and patient safety climate.

Results: Collaboration (β = 0.13; P = 0.002) and respect (β = 1.07; P = 0.03) were significant independent predictors of patient safety climate. Conflict was an independent and significant inverse predictor of patient safety climate (β = -0.29; P = 0.03), but did not moderate linkages between collaboration and patient safety climate or between respect and patient safety climate.

Conclusions: Through the IPMPC, all health professionals learned how to collaborate and build a patient safety climate, even in the presence of inter-professional conflict. Efforts by others to foster better work relationships may yield similar improvements in patient safety climate.

Keywords: inter-professional collaboration; inter-professional conflict; inter-professional relationships; patient safety climate; secondary analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Safety*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult