Objectives To investigate predictors of healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) attitudes towards family involvement in safety-relevant behaviours.
Design A cross-sectional fractional factorial survey that assessed HCPs’ attitudes towards family involvement in two error scenarios relating to hand hygiene and medication safety. Each survey comprised two randomised vignettes that described the potential error, how the family member communicated with the HCP about the error and how the HCP responded to the family member’s question.
Setting 5 teaching hospitals in London, the Midlands and York. HCPs were approached on a range of medical and surgical wards.
Participants 160 HCPs (73 doctors; 87 nurses) aged between 21 and 65 years (mean 37) 102 were female.
Outcome measures HCP approval of family member’s behaviour; HCP reaction to the family member; anticipated effects on the family member–HCP relationship; HCP support for being questioned about hand hygiene/medication; affective rating responses.
Results HCPs supported family member's intervening (88%) but only 41% agreed this would have positive effects on the family member/HCP relationship. Across vignettes and error scenarios the strongest predictors of attitudes were how the HCP (in the scenario) responded to the family member and whether an error actually occurred. Doctors (vs nurses) provided systematically more positive affective ratings to the vignettes.
Conclusions Important predictors of HCPs’ attitudes towards family members’ involvement in patient safety have been highlighted. In particular, a discouraging response from HCP’s decreased support for family members being involved and had strong perceived negative effects on the family member/HCP relationship.
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