A joint Tel Aviv University-University of Florida study shows that even the most benign forms of impoliteness may hinder care.
“Relatively benign forms of incivility among medical staff members — simple rudeness — have robust implications on medical team collaboration processes and thus on their performance as a team,” says lead researcher Prof. Peter Bamberger of TAU’s School of Management. “This is important because rudeness is rampant in many medical contexts. Patients and their families may be rude to caregivers, and caregivers may be rude to one another.”
For the purpose of the research, 24 Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) teams from hospitals around Israel participated in a simulation exercise involving a premature infant suffering from the common but severe medical complication necrotizing enterocolitis (in which bowel tissue disintegrates).
The teams were told that an expert on team reflexivity from the United States would be observing them by live video throughout the stimulation. Half of the teams performed in the presence of a “rude” expert who made disparaging comments about the medical personnel, whereas the other half completed their tasks under the gaze of a “neutral” commentator.
The researchers found that teams exposed to ill-mannered behavior demonstrated poorer diagnostic and procedural performance than those not exposed to rudeness.