Formative evaluation of the video reflexive ethnography method, as applied to the physician-nurse dyad

Milisa Manojlovich, Richard M. Frankel, Molly Harrod, Alaa Heshmati, Timothy Hofer, Elizabeth Umberfield, Sarah Krein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background Despite decades of research and interventions, poor communication between physicians and nurses continues to be a primary contributor to adverse events in the hospital setting and a major challenge to improving patient safety. The lack of progress suggests that it is time to consider alternative approaches with greater potential to identify and improve communication than those used to date. We conducted a formative evaluation to assess the feasibility, acceptability and utility of using video reflexive ethnography (VRE) to examine, and potentially improve, communication between nurses and physicians. Methods We begin with a brief description of the institutional review boardapproval process and recruitment activities, then explain how we conducted the formative evaluation by describing (1) the VRE process itself; (2) our assessment of the exposure to the VRE process; and (3) challenges encountered and lessons learnt as a result of the process, along with suggestions for change. Results Our formative evaluation demonstrates that it is feasible and acceptable to video-record communication between physicians and nurses during patient care rounds across many units at a large, academic medical centre. The lessons that we learnt helped to identify procedural changes for future projects. We also discuss the broader application of this methodology as a possible strategy for improving other important quality and safety practices in healthcare settings. Conclusions The VRE process did generate increased reflection in both nurse and physician participants. Moreover, VRE has utility in assessing communication and, based on the comments of our participants, can serve as an intervention to possibly improve communication, with implications for patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Quality and Safety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • communication
  • patient safety
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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