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Evidence-Based Conflict Resolution Strategies in Healthcare


One can state with certainty that the occurrence of conflict situations in the workplace has a considerable negative impact on the overall working process. In the public health sector, the emergence of such situations has particularly adverse outcomes since nurses are responsible for the health and life of their patients. Due to the fact that healthcare workers are subject to a wide variety of stress factors, including work-specific as well as considerably common and widespread ones, the occurrence of conflicts in hospital environments appears to be a significant problem.

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The collective effort of nursing leaders and nurses to decrease the negative impact of conflict situations on the working process is one of the most important goals of contemporary nursing. This paper aims to discuss and analyze an evidence-based example of a conflict situation in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the best conflict resolution strategies.

Overview of the Recurring Conflict

As the main scope of this paper is the discussion of an experienced conflict situation in the workplace, it is possible to start the paper with a brief observation of the proposed situation. The recurring conflict under consideration is from personal working experience in a hospital setting in Miami. It is stated that the conflict had a recurring nature because the primary premises for the conflict were not solved properly. In general, the most evident factors that provoked the continuous occurrence of conflict situations were job dissatisfaction, burnout, and moral distress, which decreased the ability of nurses to provide high-quality care and perform their tasks effectively. I was not deeply involved in workplace relationships, and thus I was in the position of an observer.

Description of the Experienced Conflict in Details

Due to the fact that the conflict had a recurring nature, a vast variety of examples could be mentioned. However, in the majority of situations, the conflict situations happened according to the same scenario, and thus it is appropriate to describe one typical situation in detail.

Considering the opposing parties in the conflict, it is possible to mention nurses and nursing coordinators. Typically, a conflict situation would happen during night shifts, when a nurse would forget about some of his or her responsibilities or directly refused to complete them. Nurses usually stated that they are too tired and stressed out to perform their job properly, and also that they do not feel satisfied with their position. As it was mentioned previously, the conflict had an unresolved nature because the hospital management did not make any significant attempts to change the situation.

The Four Stages of Conflict in the Context of the Recurring Conflict

Outline of the Four Stages of Conflict

The four stages of conflict are a theoretical framework that is used for the analysis of conflict development. The first stage is Latent, in which future participants of the conflict are not aware of the existence of the potentially controversial situation. The second Perceived stage refers largely to the conflict itself: the participants are fully aware of it, and the confrontation occurs. The third Felt stage represents the feelings of stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and resentment, which are provoked by the participation in the conflict situation. Finally, the Manifest stage refers to the phase in which the conflict could be observed by its participants in order to retrieve meaningful conclusions and develop an intervention or solution for the conflict.

The Relation between the Conflict Stages and the Example

After outlining the principal stages of the conflict theoretical framework, it is essential to put these stages in the context of the experienced conflict situation, which was described earlier. Obviously enough, I did not happen to observe the Latent stage since the process of nursing burnout is considerably longer, and it usually develops without any signs. The Perceived stage was observed as I experienced numerous occasions in which nurses expressed their dissatisfaction and moral distress from the working conditions. Accordingly, the Felt stage was observed as well since numerous and apparent manifestations of negative feelings associated with the working experience were discussed by nurses. Moreover, it is also obvious that the Manifest stage was not observed because the management of the hospital did not attempt to resolve the conflict.

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Delegation as an Issue in the Conflict

Delegation is often considered to be an important driving factor in the development of conflict situations. In the context of the described situation, it could be observed that the delegation was a part of the issue. Due to such factors as moral distress, job dissatisfaction, and overall burnout, nurses tended to neglect their responsibilities. When they were asked about the reasons for such behavior, they usually delegated the responsibility to other nurses or nursing managers. Another form of delegation as a part of the recurring conflict that was experienced by me is when some nurses asked me to perform activities that I was not responsible for.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

As the unresolved conflict was described in detail as well as in the context of the four stages of conflict framework, it is essential to observe possible strategies for conflict resolution. It is apparent that given the significance of the problem, it is well-recognized in contemporary academic literature. One of the examples of the development of an evidence-based approach to conflict resolution is the article by Twigg and McCullough (2014).

In this study, the authors develop comprehensive guidelines for the improvement of the atmosphere within clinical environments. The following components of an efficient conflict resolution strategy are mentioned by the authors: nurse participation in hospital affairs, developing nursing foundations for quality care as well as nurse manager ability, leadership, and support of nurses, staffing and resource adequacy, and collaborative nurse-physician relationships (Twigg & McCullough, 2014).

Another example is the article by Brown et al. (2015), which promotes the establishment and maintenance of efficient teamwork among nurses. Teambuilding is analyzed by the authors as the important driving factor of facilitating the hospital environment. Additionally, resilience could be mentioned as yet another significant factor. The study by Hart et al. (2014) exemplifies the importance of this factor in evidence-based practice.

Moreover, it could also be observed that the cooperation of healthcare workers and nursing leaders is considered by the vast majority of authors as a highly significant aspect of conflict prevention and resolution. In the article by Twigg and McCullough (2014), the positive impact of an effective nursing leader is discussed. The authors mention that the implementation of evidence-based interventions, guided by nursing leaders, has a positive impact on conflict resolution.

Summary of the Experience and Future Recommendations

The situation of the recurring conflict that was discussed in this paper is a highly important experience for me as a healthcare professional. Despite the fact that this experience was not pleasant, it gave me an opportunity to learn about the significance of stress factors in the workplace. Additionally, the knowledge obtained from scholarly literature is also of critical importance. Regarding future directions, I suggest that the evidence-based experience along with theoretical frameworks should be included in the practice to resolve emerging conflicts in the workplace.


Allen, R., & Butler, E. (2016). Addressing moral distress in critical care nurses: A pilot study. Int J Crit Care Emerg Med, 2(2), 1-6.

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Brown, J. B., Ryan, B. L., Thorpe, C., Markle, E. K., Hutchison, B., & Glazier, R. H. (2015). Measuring teamwork in primary care: Triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(3), 193-202.

Hart, P. L., Brannan, J. D., & De Chesnay, M. (2014). Resilience in nurses: An integrative review. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(6), 720-734.

Twigg, D., & McCullough, K. (2014). Nurse retention: A review of strategies to create and enhance positive practice environments in clinical settings. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(1), 85-92.

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