Conflict management improves ICU team knowledge, mindfulness, and awareness

The Intensive Care Unit is a stressful place, and conflicts invariably arise. To better understand the relationships between physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and advanced practitioners, researchers created a conflict management education intervention. The study paid close attention to diagnosing the conflict type and cause, recognizing the internal dialogue, introducing conflict management modes used in conflict situations, and developing self and other awareness.

Utilizing quantitative analysis, researchers evaluated 56 participants using pre and post knowledge and perceptions of conflict, Thomas-Kilmann descriptive statistics to investigate the participants’ chosen conflict management mode, and a qualitative analysis to evaluate open-ended questions on the post-test. Pre post-test analysis had 45 participants and the Thomas-Kilmann descriptive statistics had 49 participants participate.

The researchers found both knowledge and perception scores increased following the intervention. They found that the most frequent strategy for conflict management was avoidance (32%), followed by compromising (30%), accomodating (25%), collaborating (9%) and competing (5%). Participants indicated that the aspects of the intervention that would stay with them were the Thomas-Kilmann conflict management modes and better awareness of others. Results also showed that the more diverse the group participants were, the richer the perception and perspective dialogues during the educational sessions.

“The conflict management educational intervention improved the participants’ knowledge and had an effect on perceptions,” says Dr. Bobbie Ann A. White, lead researcher. “Qualitative data suggests ICU participants were interested in concrete information that will help with conflict resolution, and some participants understood that mindfulness and awareness would improve professional interactions or reduce conflict.”

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