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Interventions promoting employee “speaking-up” within healthcare workplaces: a systematic narrative review of the international literature

Jones, Aled ORCID:, Blake, Joanne, Adams, Mary, Kelly, Daniel ORCID:, Mannion, Russell and Maben, Jill 2021. Interventions promoting employee “speaking-up” within healthcare workplaces: a systematic narrative review of the international literature. Health Policy 125 (3) , pp. 375-384. 10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.12.016

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Background Healthcare systems worldwide increasingly value the contribution of employee voice in ensuring the quality of patient care. Although employees’ concerns are often dealt with satisfactorily, considerable evidence suggests that some employees may feel unable to speak-up, and even when they do their concerns may be ignored. As a result, in addition to trans-national and national policies, workplace interventions that support employees to speak-up about their concerns have recently increased. Methods A systematic narrative review, informed by complex systems perspectives addresses the question: “What workplace strategies and/or interventions have been implemented to promote speaking-up by employees”? Results Thirty-four studies were included in the review. Most studies reported inconclusive results. Researchers explanations for the successful implementation, or otherwise, of speak-up interventions were synthesised into two narrative themes (Braithwaite et al., 2018 (a)) hierarchical, interdisciplinary and cultural relationships and (Francis, 2015 (b)) psychological safety. Conclusions We strengthen the existing evidence base by providing an in-depth critique of the complex system factors influencing the implementation of speak-up interventions within the healthcare workforce. Although many of the studies were locally unique, there were international similarities in workplace cultures and norms that created contexts inimical to speaking-up interventions. Changing communication behaviours and creating a climate that supports speaking-up is immensely challenging. Interventions can be usurped in practice by complex, emergent and contextual issues, such as pre-existing socio-cultural relationships and workplace hierarchies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0168-8510
Funders: NIHR
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 February 2021
Date of Acceptance: 28 December 2020
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 23:58

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