Despite the growing number of emergency department visits, effective communication between patients and physicians are often overlooked because of the fast- paced nature of the emergency department (ED). As such, we do not know what is seen as effective communication within this particular context. Therefore, the goal of this study was to learn how emergency department physicians define effective communication and identify the barriers and facilitators to communicating in the ED. Seventeen semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with ED physicians. Interviews were recorded and transcribed into a Word document. Data analysis included two steps—the constant comparison method (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002) and the Hymes (1974) SPEAKING framework. The findings indicated a definition of effective communication as well as the following five dimensions of effective communication: efficiency, clarity/accuracy, relevance, comprehension, and rapport. Communication is efficient when the desired goals are met in a timely manner without expending too many resources. Communication is clear and accurate when the message's state of clearness is evident and the state and quality of a message is true, correct, and precise. Communication is relevant when the message is directly pertinent to the discussion at hand. Communication is comprehended when the physician and the patient both understand the information being communicated between each other and are both then able to act on that information, and lastly, communication builds rapport when the physician demonstrates sympathy/empathy, shows concern, and offers reassurance with the patient. Several individual and system barriers were identified for both the individual patient and physician and the system as an environment. Individual and system facilitators were discussed to help address these barriers. Overall, the findings suggest a contradiction in ED physicians' perceptions of effective communication and demonstrate The University of New Mexico Hospital ED has a culture of its own.
effective communication, emergency department, physicians, patients
Level of Degree
Department of Communication and Journalism
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Dean, Marleah. "It's like a giant game of telephone: Physicians' perceptions of effective communication in the emergency department context'." (2011). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/cj_etds/64