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Prosocial voice in the hierarchy of healthcare professionals: the role of emotions after harmful patient safety incidents

Prosocial voice in the hierarchy of healthcare professionals: the role of emotions after harmful... Supporting and nurturing effective communication between healthcare professionals is vital to protect patients from harm. However, not all forms of employee voice are effective. Fear can lead to defensive voice, while the role of other emotions to drive voice behaviour is less well understood. This paper aims to understand what role the broader range of emotions, including compassion and shame, experienced by healthcare professionals following patient safety incidents (PSI) play in the subsequent enactment of prosocial voice, a positive and other-oriented form of communication.Design/methodology/approachThis study is based on data from a single English NHS hospital: interviews with healthcare professionals involved in PSIs (N = 40), observations at quality and risk committees and meetings (N = 26 h) and review of investigative documents (N = 33). Three recent PSIs were selected for cross-case analysis based upon organisational theory related to professional hierarchy, employee voice and literature on emotions.FindingsAmong three cases, the authors found variance in context, emotional experience and voice behaviour. Where professionals feared blame and repercussion, voice was defensive. Meanwhile where they experienced shame and compassion, prosocial voice was enacted to protect patients.Practical implicationsHealthcare organisations seeking to foster prosocial voice should: (1) be more considerate of professionals' emotional experiences post-PSI and ensure adequate support for recovery (2) establish norms for professionals to share their struggles with others (3) reward professionals who demonstrate caring behaviour (4) buffer professionals from workplace pressures.Originality/valueThe authors’ study highlights how emotional experiences, such as shame and compassion, can mediate blame and defensiveness and lead to the enactment of prosocial voice in the professional hierarchy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Health Organisation and Management Emerald Publishing

Prosocial voice in the hierarchy of healthcare professionals: the role of emotions after harmful patient safety incidents

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References (41)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1477-7266
DOI
10.1108/jhom-01-2022-0027
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Supporting and nurturing effective communication between healthcare professionals is vital to protect patients from harm. However, not all forms of employee voice are effective. Fear can lead to defensive voice, while the role of other emotions to drive voice behaviour is less well understood. This paper aims to understand what role the broader range of emotions, including compassion and shame, experienced by healthcare professionals following patient safety incidents (PSI) play in the subsequent enactment of prosocial voice, a positive and other-oriented form of communication.Design/methodology/approachThis study is based on data from a single English NHS hospital: interviews with healthcare professionals involved in PSIs (N = 40), observations at quality and risk committees and meetings (N = 26 h) and review of investigative documents (N = 33). Three recent PSIs were selected for cross-case analysis based upon organisational theory related to professional hierarchy, employee voice and literature on emotions.FindingsAmong three cases, the authors found variance in context, emotional experience and voice behaviour. Where professionals feared blame and repercussion, voice was defensive. Meanwhile where they experienced shame and compassion, prosocial voice was enacted to protect patients.Practical implicationsHealthcare organisations seeking to foster prosocial voice should: (1) be more considerate of professionals' emotional experiences post-PSI and ensure adequate support for recovery (2) establish norms for professionals to share their struggles with others (3) reward professionals who demonstrate caring behaviour (4) buffer professionals from workplace pressures.Originality/valueThe authors’ study highlights how emotional experiences, such as shame and compassion, can mediate blame and defensiveness and lead to the enactment of prosocial voice in the professional hierarchy.

Journal

Journal of Health Organisation and ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: May 17, 2023

Keywords: Compassion; Shame; Patient safety; Professional hierarchy; Prosocial voice

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