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Reducing healthcare conflict: outcomes from using the conflict management framework


Objective To test a new conflict management framework (CMF) to help staff identify and de-escalate conflict between staff and patients/families.

Design Before/after study that reports staff quality of life, frequency/severity of conflicts and qualitative interviews on using the framework. Data were collected from May 2017 to September 2017.

Setting A paediatric oncology department day-patient and 23-bed inpatient ward.

Intervention A two-stage CMF used by staff during daily handovers to identify and then manage conflict cases with families.

Results Staff found the CMFto be helpful in identifying and de-escalating conflicts. The number of conflicts reported decreased by 64% from baseline to follow-up. Communication regarding conflict identification improved. Reports of staff burn-out decreased between the two time-points (n=55 at baseline, n=31 at follow-up; p=0.001). Scores on compassion and secondary traumatic stress did not change.

Conclusions The CMF substantially reduces the incidence of conflicts and is an acceptable approach for staff. Continued use of the framework would require it to be fully integrated into the working of the ward, which would need to include senior medical buy-in. Further refinements to the framework have been made and will be tested in four UK sites in 2018/2019.

  • multidisciplinary team-care
  • conflict
  • ethics
  • health services research

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