Location of Repository

Nurses' perceptions and experiences of communication in the operating theatre : a focus group interview

By Debra Nestel and Jane M. Kidd


Abstract\ud Nurses' perceptions and experiences of communication in the operating theatre: a focus group interview\ud \ud Background\ud Communication programmes are well established in nurse education. The focus of programmes is most often on communicating with patients with less attention paid to inter-professional communication or skills essential for working in specialised settings. Although there are many anecdotal reports of communication within the operating theatre, there are few empirical studies. This paper explores communication behaviours for effective practice in the operating theatre as perceived by nurses and serves as a basis for developing training.\ud \ud Methods\ud A focus group interview was conducted with seven experienced theatre nurses from a large London teaching hospital. The interview explored their perceptions of the key as well as unique features of effective communication skills in the operating theatre. Data was transcribed and thematically analysed until agreement was achieved by the two authors.\ud \ud Results\ud There was largely consensus on the skills deemed necessary for effective practice including listening, clarity of speech and being polite. Significant influences on the nature of communication included conflict in role perception and organisational issues. Nurses were often expected to work outside of their role which either directly or indirectly created barriers for effective communication. Perceptions of a lack of collaborative team effort also influenced communication.\ud \ud Conclusion\ud Although fundamental communication skills were identified for effective practice in the operating theatre, there were significant barriers to their use because of confusion over clarity of roles (especially nurses' roles) and the implications for teamwork. Nurses were dissatisfied with several aspects of communication. Future studies should explore the breadth and depth of this dissatisfaction in other operating theatres, its impact on morale and importantly on patient safety. Interprofessional communication training for operating theatre staff based in part on the key issues identified in this study may help to create clarity in roles and focus attention on effective teamwork and promote clinical safety.\ud \u

Topics: RT, RD
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:586

Suggested articles



  1. (1985). AH: OR personnel functions: testing of observability.
  2. (1970). Analysis of the role of the professional staff nurse in the operating room. Nursing Research doi
  3. (1984). Communicating in the OR. Part 1: An overview. doi
  4. (1985). Communicating in the OR. Part 2: Listening. doi
  5. (1985). Communicating in the OR. Part 3: Confrontation. doi
  6. (1984). Communicating with surgeons, once you learn the language, is possible most of the time. doi
  7. (1992). Communication – a theatre art.
  8. (2002). Communication skills: some problems in nursing education. doi
  9. (1993). Conflicts in Care. Medicine and Nursing Chapman and Hall: London;
  10. Crew Resource Management and its applications in medicine. In Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices Volume 44. Edited by: Shojana
  11. (1991). Davidhizar R: Let's talk about it.
  12. (2000). Development and definition of the role of the operating department nurse: A review. doi
  13. (1999). Development of a meaningful learning environment in theatres. doi
  14. (2002). DeVito I: Team communications in the operating room: talk patterns, sites of tension, and implications for novices. Academic Medicine doi
  15. (1991). E: Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation Cambridge: doi
  16. (2002). Espin S: Forming professional identities on the health care team: discursive constructions of the "other" in the operating room. Medical Education doi
  17. (1996). Gods of Management: The Changing World of Organisations Oxford:
  18. (1996). Hughes A: Managing rumor and gossip in operating room settings. Semin Perioper Nurs
  19. (1989). I'm not sure what you want but I want it now. Natnews
  20. Infirmary Inquiry [http://www.bristolinquiry.org.uk/final_report/report/]
  21. (1999). JRP: Exploratory study of nursing in an operating departmenmt: preliminary findings on the role of the nurse. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing doi
  22. (1993). Men and Women of the Corporation Revised edition. NY: Basic Books;
  23. (1991). Non-nursing duties in theatre. Part 1.
  24. (1991). Non-nursing duties in theatre. Part 2.
  25. of Theatre Nurses: The role of the nurse as first assistant in the operating department. NATN,
  26. op cit 21. doi
  27. op cit 22. doi
  28. op cit 23. doi
  29. op cit 24. doi
  30. op cit 4–15. doi
  31. (2005). Operating theatre nurses: Emotional labour and the hostess role. doi
  32. (1998). Participants evaluation of team oriented medical simulation. doi
  33. Pre-publication history The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:
  34. (1987). Professional survival tips: communicating effectively with peers. Perioper Nurs Q
  35. (1993). Responding to irritable people in the OR setting. Today's OR Nurse
  36. (1995). Safety in the operating theatre – part 1: interpersonal relationships and team performance. Curr Anaesth Crit Care doi
  37. (1992). Sarnquist FH: Anaesthesia crisis resource management training: teaching anaesthesiologists to handle critical incidents. Aviat Space Environ Med
  38. (1993). She won't be dancing much anyway: a study of surgeons, surgical nurses and elderly patients. Qualitative Health Research doi
  39. (1983). Stokoe SJ: Taking the stress out of OR communication. doi
  40. (1998). Surgeon – assistant communication. Today's Surg Nurse
  41. (1994). Team Roles at Work London: doi
  42. (1996). The interplay between doctors and nurses: a negotiated order perspective. doi
  43. The operating room charge nurse: coordinator and communicator. doi
  44. (1991). Theatre nursing as a profession.
  45. (2000). Timmons S: Backstage in the theatre. doi
  46. (1995). Upskilling and the intensification of work: The extended role in intensive care nursing and midwifery. The Sociological Review doi
  47. (1991). Verbal abuse and sexual harassment in the OR. Todays OR Nurse
  48. (1992). Who's listening to whom? doi
  49. (1990). Words can hurt. Dealing with verbal abuse in the operating room.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.