Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Corridor talk in hospitals

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Despite the 'official' opportunities for exchange of information a great deal takes place 'in passing' in the corridors and this study from Switzerland by Gonzalez-Martinez et al. titled: 'Hospital staff corridor conversations: work in passing' and published in JAN had two aims: 'to document the prevalence of corridor occupations and conversations among the staff of a hospital clinic, and their main features' and 'to examine the activities accomplished through corridor conversations and their interactional organization'. Fifty-nine hours of conversation was video-taped and analysed for the study. Conversations in corridors are short and staff rarely stop to have them; they are conducted 'on the hoof'. Mostly staff talk about professional issues and if more that two staff are present they are more common.

There has been previous work on corridor conversations, which is reviewed in the article, but, as the authors explain, unlike their study, these studies did: 'not provide quantitative evidence of the prevalence of corridor conversations or detailed analysis of the diversity of interaction configurations and the activities being accomplished in this way'. Much work remains to be done in this area, especially related to how well such corridor conversations are related to performance. However, as the authors conclude - in these days where the trend is towards: 'the push for technology-mediated means of distant communication, the study reminds us that impromptu co-present conversation remains an information-rich, rapid and flexible form of organizational communication'.

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Gonzalez-Martinez E, Bangerter A, LĂȘ Van K, Navarro C (2015) Hospital staff corridor conversations: work in passing Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12842

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