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Health care teams consist of members from different
professions and disciplines. The two most important
professions in these teams are the nursing and medical ones.
Although they may have different backgrounds they must work
together in harmony to provide quality care for their patients.
Nonetheless, such differences may be the sources of conflicts,
which if excessive may jeopardize the care provided to patients
and the wellbeing of health personnel. Hence, the conflict
resolution strategies are essential to effectively deal with
conflict. This study was aimed at identifying the causes and
resolution strategies of conflict between nurses and physicians
through identifying the causes of conflict between nurses and
physicians from nurses’ point of view, from physicians’ point of
view, and identifying conflict resolution strategies used by
nurses and physicians.
This analytic cross-sectional study was conducted at
various surgical departments and intensive care units (ICUs) at
El-Demerdash University Hospital. It included 176 full-time staff nurses providing direct patient care, and 186 physicians
(residents, specialists and consultants).
The data were collected using a self-administered
questionnaire with two scales, namely the conflict causes
questionnaire with 50 statements on a 5-point Likert scale, and
Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument (TKI) with 30 pairs
of items (A and B), in addition to a part for participants’
demographic and job characteristics. The tool was pilot-tested
on about 10% of the number of nurses and physicians required
for the study, and it was finalized accordingly. The total time
consumed in the process of data collection was 12 months. The
study protocol was approved by the scientific research ethics
committee in the Faculty of Nursing at Ain Shams University.
The study results revealed the following.
Nurses’ age ranged between 22 and 55 years, with a
majority of females (75%), and 47.2% having a bachelor
degree in nursing.
Physicians’ age ranged between 25 and 58 years, with a
slightly more males (55.4%), and 66.1% having a
postgraduate degree. Nurses’ agreement upon the causes of conflict was
significantly higher in all categories except that of
workload, which was higher among physicians (93%)
compared with nurses (79%); no differences were revealed
in the categories of personality differences and level of
In total, 90.3% of the nurses agreed upon the factors that
may cause conflict compared with 70.4% of the physicians
Concerning conflict resolution, the accommodating
strategy was the most used by both nurses (38.6%) and
physicians (28.5%); the only statistically significant
difference was in the compromising strategy, which was
higher among physicians (24.2%) compared with nurses
Statistically significant relations were revealed between
agreement upon causes and the competing resolution
strategy among nurses, but with all strategies among
physicians except accommodating.Weak statistically positive correlations were revealed
between nurses’ agreement and the competing strategy,
and a negative correlation with collaborating strategy.
A weak statistically negative correlation was found
between physicians’ agreement and competing strategy,
and positive correlations with collaborating,
compromising, and avoiding strategies.
Nurses’ qualification correlated positively with their
agreement upon conflict causes and negatively with their
use of collaborating strategy.
For physicians, age correlated negatively with the use of
compromising strategy, while qualification and experience
correlated positively with their use of competing strategy,
and negatively with collaborating and compromising
Multivariate analysis identified being a nurse, older age,
female gender, and the more use of compromising strategy
as the positive independent predictors of a higher score of
agreement upon conflict causes, while more experience
years was a negative predictor.