Project focus

In the operating theatre, communication failures are the leading cause of inadvertent patient harm, while effective communication is key to patient safety. The operating theatre is characterised by a range of complex professional demands that shape communication in important ways. For instance, facemasks help maintain sterility, but also obscure facial expression. Much prior research on communication in the operating theatre has explored self-reported behavior through interviews. In this project, funded by the  British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, video recordings of operations (68 h) will be used as an alternative resource for investigating communication. Video allows for in-depth examination of speech, as well as gaze, gesture and other modes of communication. The aims of the study are (1) to improve understanding of multimodal communication in the operating theatre and beyond; (2) to develop, test and refine interventions designed to improve communication in the operating theatre. The project has theoretical and methodological implications for the emerging field of multimodality, and significant implications for patient safety.

Funded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship 2014.