Bedside Nurses' Perceptions of Effective Nurse-Physician Communication in General Medical Units: A Qualitative Study

Hirotaka Kato, Jessica M Clouser, Preetham Talari, Nikita L Vundi, Akosua K Adu, Kishore Karri, Kathy B Isaacs, Mark V Williams, Romil Chadha, Jing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background There is a dearth of research on successful interventions to improve nurse-physician communication (NPC). An important step is identifying what matters to bedside nurses and their perceptions of effective NPC communications and actions. Methods We conducted three focus groups with a total of 19 medical unit nurses across two hospitals in one academic medical center in the United States. Using a convenience sampling strategy, five to eight nurses voluntarily participated in each focus group. The recording was transcribed verbatim and two independent coders performed coding and resolved any discrepancies in codes. Qualitative content analysis was pursued to identify themes and associated quotes. Results The presence of direct communication between physicians and nurses was identified as the first theme and perceived by nurses as very important. Additional themes related to physician communication and attributes emerged including collegiality and respect (e.g., engaging nurses as partners in patient care), attentiveness and responsiveness (e.g., listening carefully and addressing concerns), and directness and support (e.g., backing nurses up in difficult situations). Effective NPC is further facilitated by organizational structure, relationship development separate from patient care, and consistent/timely use of technology. Conclusions Hospital bedside nurses provided valuable insight into improved physician communication and what attributes contribute to more effective NPC. Most importantly, they emphasized the significance of physicians in supporting them with difficult patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e25304
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

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Copyright © 2022, Kato et al.


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