Healthcare workers wanting to report errors often encounter a culture of fear or blame. A just culture can improve patient safety by promoting safe and open communication, trust is hereby essential. We defined trust in a just culture when healthcare professionals believe that error communication is honest, safe, and reliable. In this study, we investigated barriers and enhancers to trust in error reporting in a just culture.
This systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The PubMed, Embase, Emcare, and Web of Science database were searched on June 21, 2021.
Several factors were found to influence trust in error reporting in a just culture, namely, organizational factors, team factors, and experience. Trust depends on the management style, open information about error handling, a focus on patient safety instead of blaming an individual, a well-executed walk-round, a code of professionalism, and a departmental incident reporting system (organizational factors). A close relationship between employee and primary supervisor, with discussion of the nature of an error and ascribing clear roles to physicians in care teams, can be enhancers of trust in error reporting. Moreover, creating a mutual understanding of the challenges faced by professionals can enhance trust (team factors). Trust in error reporting is also influenced by a health professional’s experience and training in patient safety. Factors such as a lack of confidence in clinical skills, more fear of shame/blame by less experienced workers, and knowledge of the existing error reporting system will influence a person’s trust in error reporting (experience).
This systematic review identified barriers and enhancers to trust in error reporting in a just culture. The barriers and enhancers can be divided into 3 main themes: organizational factors, team factors, and experience. Findings show that trust can be learned and created based on practical principles.