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Provider Approachability: An All-staff Survey Approach to Creating a Culture of Safety

Deyo-Svendsen Mark E. MD; Palmer, Karl B. MS, RN; Albright, Jill K. MS, RN; Phillips, Michael R. MD; Schilling, Keith A. MBA; Cabrera Svendsen, Matthew E. MD, MPH
Journal of Patient Safety: Post Author Corrections: August 17, 2017
doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000409
Original Article: PDF Only


A culture-of-safety survey of our hospital staff revealed fear-based reluctance to question those in authority. We aimed to examine provider approachability (words and actions that promote trust and reduce or eliminate fear of interaction).


Providers and staff completed an anonymous facility-wide survey (survey 1) regarding perceptions of provider approachability. Results were safely communicated to providers, and improvement resources were offered. A follow-up survey (survey 2 [S2]) was performed.


The survey participation rate was 59% (389/658). Eighty-four percent of providers had improved scores in S2. Mean top-box scores improved from 0.63 to 0.76 (P < .001). Providers deemed less approachable by nonprovider staff were also deemed less approachable by their peers (r = 0.82; survey 1). Forty-four percent reported improvement in the safety culture in S2. Twenty-eight percent of providers reported making efforts to improve how they were perceived by others.


Provider approachability surveys are a safe, effective method of assessing and encouraging positive interactions that promote trust and influence positive communication. The process created an opportunity to identify and assist providers who were less approachable.

Correspondence: Mark E. Deyo-Svendsen, MD, Department of Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System–Red Cedar in Menomonie, Menomonie, WI 54751 (e-mail:

The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

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