• coordination;
  • interdisciplinary communication;
  • interdisciplinary relationships;
  • nursing;
  • quality

havens d.s., vasey j., gittell j.h. & lin w-t. (2010) Journal of Nursing Management18, 926–937 Relational coordination among nurses and other providers: impact on the quality of patient care

Aim  The present study examined nurse reports of relational coordination between nurses and other providers and the impact of relational coordination on patient care quality.

Background  While communication between providers has been traditionally considered important to improve quality, relational coordination extends this view, emphasising the value of high-quality relationships exemplified by shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect; and high-quality communication that is timely, frequent, accurate and problem-solving.

Methods  Direct care registered nurses (RNs) (= 747) completed surveys to assess relational coordination across five provider functions and six types of patient care units. Nurses also reported perceptions about patient care quality.

Results  In all analyses, relational coordination between nurses and other providers was significantly related to overall quality, in the expected directions. As relational coordination increased, nurses reported decreases in adverse events such as hospital-acquired infections and medication errors.

Conclusions  Enhancing relational coordination between nurses and other providers is central to improving the quality of patient care.

Implications for nurse managers and new knowledge  The emerging theory of relational coordination provides a useful new research-based framework for managers to use to improve provider relationships, communication and the quality of care.