Foundations for teaching surgeons to address the contributions of systems to operating room team conflict

David A. Rogers, Lorelei Lingard, Margaret L. Boehler, Sherry Espin, Nancy Schindler, Mary Klingensmith, John D. Mellinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Prior research has shown that surgeons who effectively manage operating room conflict engage in a problem-solving stage devoted to modifying systems that contribute to team conflict. The purpose of this study was to clarify how systems contributed to operating room team conflict and clarify what surgeons do to modify them. Methods: Focus groups of circulating nurses and surgeons were conducted at 5 academic medical centers. Narratives describing the contributions of systems to operating room conflict and behaviors used by surgeons to address those systems were analyzed using the constant comparative approach associated with a constructivist grounded theory approach. Results: Operating room team conflict was affected by 4 systems-related factors: team features, procedural-specific staff training, equipment management systems, and the administrative leadership itself. Effective systems problem solving included advocating for change based on patient safety concerns. Conclusions: The results of this study provide clarity about how systems contribute to operating room conflict and what surgeons can do to effectively modify these systems. This information is foundational material for a conflict management educational program for surgeons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-432
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Operating room conflict Systems contributions Conflict management education


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