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Time as a Catalyst for Tension in Nurse-surgeon Communication
AORN Journal
  • Sherry L. Espin, University of Toronto
  • Lorelei A. Lingard, University of Toronto
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Carefully studying communication patterns between nurses and surgeons questions popular stereotypes about OR discourse and expands educators' understanding of the factors that motivate team communication, patterns that are habitual among team members, and issues that act as catalysts for tension. This study examines the nature of communication between perioperative nurses and surgeons and identifies patterns and sites of tension. Researchers observed 128 hours of interaction between nurses and surgeons in four surgical divisions at one teaching hospital in Ontario, Canada. Field notes were read, coded, and analyzed independently. Results showed that higher tension in nurse-surgeon communication clusters around particular themes, the most dominant of which is time. Analysis of this theme reveals communication strategies that allow surgeons and nurses to achieve individual goals and support social cohesion among team members.


Dr. Lorelei Lingard is currently a faculty member at The University of Western Ontario.

Citation Information
Sherry L. Espin and Lorelei A. Lingard. "Time as a Catalyst for Tension in Nurse-surgeon Communication" AORN Journal Vol. 74 Iss. 5 (2001) p. 672 - 682
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