Individual and Team-Based Medical Error Disclosure: Dialectical Tensions Among Health Care Providers

Mandy Jones, Jennifer Scarduzio, Elzaba Mathews, Paula Holbrook, Darlene Welsh, Lee Wilbur, Douglas Carr, L. Curtis Cary, Christopher I. Doty, James A. Ballard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Researchers from disciplines of education, health communication, law and risk management, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy examined communication tensions among interprofessional (IP) health care providers regarding medical error disclosure utilizing patient simulation. Using relational dialectics theory, we examined how communication tensions manifested in both individual-provided medical error disclosure and IP team-based disclosure. Two dialectical tensions that health care providers experienced in disclosure conversations were identified: (a) leadership and support, and (b) transparency and protectionism. Whereas these tensions were identified in an IP education setting using simulation, findings support the need for future research in clinical practice, which may inform best practices for various disclosure models. Identifying dialectical tensions in disclosure conversations may enable health communication experts to effectively engage health care providers, risk management, and patient care teams in terms of support and education related to communicating about medical errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1108
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project was supported by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIH), through Grant UL1TR000117. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • interprofessional team
  • medical error disclosure
  • qualitative mixed methods
  • relational dialectics
  • southeastern United States
  • tensions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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