A Road Map for Advancing the Practice of Respect in Health Care: The Results of an Interdisciplinary Modified Delphi Consensus Study

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018 Aug;44(8):463-476. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2018.02.003. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


Background: Most health care organizations' efforts to reduce harm focus on physical harm, but other forms of harm are both prevalent and important. These "nonphysical" harms can be framed using the concepts of respect and dignity: Disrespect is an affront to dignity and can cause harm. Organizations should strive to eliminate disrespect to patients, to families, and among health care professionals.

Methods: A diverse, interdisciplinary panel of experts was convened to discuss strategies to guide health care systems to embrace an expanded definition of patient harm that includes nonphysical harm. Subsequently, using a modified Delphi process, a guide was developed for health care professionals and organizations to improve the practice of respect across the continuum of care.

Results: Five rounds of surveys were required to reach predefined metrics of consensus. Delphi participants identified a total of 25 strategies associated with six high-level recommendations: "Leaders must champion a culture of respect and dignity"; with other professionals sharing the responsibility to "Promote accountability"; "Engage and support the health care workforce"; "Partner with patients and families"; "Establish systems to learn about and improve the practice of respect"; and "Expand the research agenda and measurement tools, and disseminate what is learned."

Conclusion: Harm from disrespect is the next frontier in preventable harm. This consensus statement provides a road map for health care organizations and professionals interested in engaging in a reliable practice of respect. Further work is needed to develop the specific tactics that will lead health care organizations to prevent harm from disrespect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delphi Technique
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Services Administration / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Leadership
  • Patient Safety / standards*
  • Professional Role
  • Respect*
  • Work Engagement