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Acad Med. 2005 Oct;80(10 Suppl):S75-9.

Perceptions of operating room tension across professions: building generalizable evidence and educational resources.

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Wilson Centre for Research in Education, 200 Elizabeth Street, Eaton South 1-605, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Effective team communication is critical in health care, yet no curriculum exists to teach it. Naturalistic research has revealed systematic patterns of tension and profession-specific interpretation of operating room team communication. Replication of these naturalistic findings in a controlled, video-based format could provide a basis for formal curricula.


Seventy-two surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists independently rated three video-based scenarios for the three professions' level of tension, responsibility for creating tension and responsibility for resolution. Data were analyzed using three-way, mixed-design analyses of variance.


The three professions rated tension levels of the various scenarios similarly (F=1.19, ns), but rated each profession's responsibility for creating (F=2.86, p<.05) and resolving (F=1.91, p<.01) tension differently, often rating their profession as having relatively less responsibility than the others.


These results provide an evidence base for team communications training about tension patterns, disparity of professional perspectives, and implications for team function.

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