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Nursing and Conflict Communication: Avoidance as Preferred Strategy

Mahon, Margaret M. PhD, RN, FAAN; Nicotera, Anne M. PhD

Nursing Administration Quarterly: April-June 2011 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 152–163
doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0b013e31820f47d5

An exploratory study was conducted to examine nurses’ (n = 57) selection of strategies to confront conflict in theworkplace. Communication competence is the conceptual framework, defining competent conflict communication as jointproblem-solving communication that is both effective and appropriate. Items were drawn from tools assessing nurses’ conflictmanagement strategies. Nurses reported a strong preference not to confront conflict directly; nurse managers were less likely to avoiddirect communication. Nurses who do choose to confront conflict are more likely to use constructive than destructive strategies. Theintegration of the social science of health communication into nursing education and practice and other implications are discussed.

School of Nursing (Dr Mahon) and Department of Communication (Dr Nicotera), George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Correspondence: Margaret M. Mahon, PhD, RN, FAAN, School of Nursing, George Mason University, 4400 University Dr, ms3C4, Fairfax, VA 22030 (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.