rydenfält c., johansson g., larsson p.a., åkerman k. & odenrick p. (2011) Social structures in the operating theatre: how contradicting rationalities and trust affect work. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(4), 783–795.
Aim. This article is a report of a study of how healthcare professionals involved in surgery orientate themselves to their common task, and how this orientation can be affected by the social and organizational context.
Background. Previous research indicates that surgical teams are not as cohesive as could be expected and that communication failures frequently occur. However, little is known about how these problems are related to their social, cultural and organizational context.
Methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 healthcare professionals, representing all personnel categories of the surgical team. During the interview, a virtual model, visualizing a real operating theatre, was used to facilitate reflection. The interviews were conducted in 2009. Themes were created from the interviews, with a focus on similarities and differences. An activity analysis was conducted based on the themes.
Findings. Poor team functionality and communication failures in the operating theatre can to some degree be explained by differences in activity orientation between professions and by insufficient support from social and organizational structures. Differences in activity orientation resulted in different views between professional groups in their perceptions of work activities, resulting in tension. Insufficient support resulted in communication thresholds that inhibited the sharing of information.
Conclusion. Organizing work to promote cross-professional interaction can help the creation of social relations and norms, providing support for a common view. It can also help to decrease communication thresholds and establish stronger relations of trust. How this organization structure should be developed needs to be further investigated.