Journal Article
Study

Making soft intelligence hard: a multi-site qualitative study of challenges relating to voice about safety concerns.

Martin GP; Aveling EL; Campbell A; Tarrant C; Pronovost PJ; Mitchell I; Dankers C; Bates D; Dixon-Woods M.

A work environment in which all team members feel comfortable speaking up about safety concerns is a key aspect of positive safety culture. Although formal mechanisms exist within health care institutions for raising safety issues, little is known about how such channels promote or discourage employees from speaking up. Researchers conducted interviews with 165 frontline staff and senior leaders working at three academic hospitals in two countries. They found that leaders viewed formal systems for raising concerns favorably, but other respondents felt uneasy reporting concerns through these channels. Such apprehension occurred especially if the concern was based on a general feeling that something might be wrong rather than hard evidence—what the authors refer to as "soft" intelligence. A PSNet perspective discussed how to change safety culture.