Going to work should be a productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable experience since a great amount of time and energy is spent by each individual at their workplace. Within healthcare organizations nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals (HCP) put in long hours to provide quality health care for patients and family members, contributing to a healthy, productive, and sustainable population (Johnston, Phanhtharath & Jackson, 2009). Considering that the purpose of the health care environment is to provide sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic care, it is ironic that conflict and bullying persists in this sort of workplace (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). With the combination of workplace stressors and natural differences among staff perceptions, ideas, needs, and work ethics, conflict is unavoidable. If the required skills, support and management are not present conflict can persist within workplaces, impeding on the development of a healthy work environment. Understanding the complexities of nursing conflict is essential in successfully managing the challenge and extremely relevant in achieving a healthy workplace as outlined by the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario (RNAO, 2008).
A plethora of literature suggests that workplace conflict and bullying is widespread in nursing, and that it can render the workplace a harmful, fearful and abusive environment, indicating the importance and urgency of understanding the issue (Hutchinson, Vickers, Jackson & Wilkes, 2005). This paper will provide an in-depth analysis of this professional issue as it relates to the Comprehensive Conceptual Model for Healthy Work Environments; discuss the interplay between individual, organizational, and external systems; and propose strategies to overcome this workplace challenge (RNAO, 2008). Methods of Data Collection
The literature used in this paper was located using computerized searches of the world-wide web. Search words, phrases, and terms were focused on nursing conflict, horizontal violence, effects of nursing conflict, and nursing conflict management. The databases searched include PubMed, CINAHL, RNAO, CNO and OVID, in accordance to the hierarchy of Evidence-Based Practice. The period of 2002-2012 was chosen because it represented a reasonable length of time to detect changes in the conceptualization of conflict. Articles of high-quality were chosen based on relevance, credibility, and methodological rigor. Workplace Conflict and its relationship to the Comprehensive Model for Healthy Work Environments
Conflict can be defined as “an antagonistic state of opposition, disagreement or incompatibility between two or more parties” (Almost, 2010, p. 6). Within the nursing profession, it can manifest in several dimensions including nurse-to-nurse conflict, patient-nurse conflict, and conflict with inter-professionals and management (CNO, 2009). Interestingly, nurses report nurse-to-nurse conflict or horizontal conflict being the most distressing of them all (Johnston, Phanhtharath & Jackson, 2009). The various way in which conflict can present itself in the nursing profession can be found in Appendix A, Figure 1. It is important to note that conflict is not synonymous with an unhealthy work environment. In fact, conflict can often be a constructive and functional experience that can be catalytic to new ideas, progress and positive change and growth. Vivar explains that “conflict increases creativity and innovation, provides more energy for personal growth and healthier relationships, encourages self-examination and fosters reappraising of the situation” (2006, p.202). However, in order for conflict to transform into a positive learning experience and contribute to a healthy working environment, the appropriate skills and strategies are essential.
The Healthy Work Environments (HWE) Best Practice Guidelines (BPG) are designed by the RNAO to...