The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients

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Creating a safe environment for nurses is one of the major priorities in today’s healthcare systems. It has a certain impact on patient outcomes, including the patients’ recuperation rate, the quality of services, and well-being. However, problematic situations because of personal issues, poor leadership, and the absence of morale can deteriorate outcomes and influence the work of a health unit negatively. Conflicts deprive nurses of a variety of opportunities like gathering patient information, discussing accidents, and participating in improvement activities, and reduce the quality of care, in this regard, applying effective leadership and management models it is possible to resolve such issues. This project aims at discussing the presence of conflict in the workplace and its impact on the nursing environment, as well as patient well-being and recuperation speed and rate.

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The presence of conflict in the workplace affects the effectiveness of the nursing environment, thereby disorienting the rate and speed of patient recuperation and well-being. According to Shah (2017), healthcare providers must understand their roles and work effectively, avoiding interpersonal conflicts and respecting each other’s values, to achieve desired outcomes in patient care. Moreover, Cullati et al. (2019) state that conflicts have serious consequences for patient well-being, including failures to provide timely services or focus on patient-centered care. It is not enough to consider team conflicts as a threat to healthcare quality but to elaborate new conflict management strategies, and hire more quality managers and leaders. The offered evidence supports the research claim because it underlines the importance of clinical knowledge and interpersonal relationships within the same nursing team. However, critics would argue that despite the good intentions to create favorable working environments, even the most professional groups are not immune to conflicts. Piryani and Piryani (2017) admit that conflicts may become a good motivation to improve the environment and find our organizational weaknesses. Nevertheless, the argument is refuted by research stating that unresolved issues ultimately affect performance (Cullati et al., 2019). Therefore, the most logical thing to do when conflicts arise is to address the underlying questions comprehensively to allow nurses to continue delivering their services where they are needed the most.

Additionally, patients expect high-quality support from their nurses to assist in their recovery, but conflicts negatively affect this objective. A study by Cullati et al. (2019) found that the most common effects of conflicts in the workplace in a healthcare set-up include the failure to provide patient-centered, timely, and efficient care. The core of nursing is to ensure that patients get the necessary care services when they need them. Additionally, to deliver quality care to patients, nurses have to work in small and big interdisciplinary teams. Conflict affects the smooth coordination of activities, thus ultimately impacting how services are delivered (Cullati et al., 2019). This argument could be countered by the claim that many other additional factors define the speed and rate of patient well-being, including procedure length and medication choices (Piryani & Piryani, 2017). For instance, even without conflict, if the appropriate procedures and systems are not put in place, the quality of care delivered to patients would be affected negatively. Therefore, pointing to conflict as the leading cause of poor quality services could be a subjective claim. However, while other factors contribute to inacceptable provision of care, conflict in the workplace among nurses exacerbates the problem (Cullati et al., 2019). As such, a conflict would stifle any efforts for collaboration leading to poor service delivery hence adverse patient outcomes.

Similarly, the presence of conflicts in the workplace could reduce the speed of recovery in patients because of poor communication. According to Vermeir et al. (2015), the efficiency of delivering care is fundamentally and critically dependent on effective communication among all the involved care providers. Therefore, in the presence of conflict, nurses are unlikely to communicate effectively. From a general standpoint, when two sides are conflicting, they are bound to stay away from each other for as long as possible. In the same way, when workplace conflicts arise, the warring sides would seek to avoid each other, and in the process, communication is cut off, which ultimately affects the recovery of patients. For instance, there should be a smooth transition when handing over shifts between nurses, and this important aspect requires effective communication (Vermeir et al., 2015). Conflicts imply that such a smooth transition is interfered with, and patients could end up getting the wrong mediation or missing procedures, which ultimately affect the speed of their recovery. In response to this argument, a critic would claim that when conflicts occur, nurses are involved in multiple interventions to improve their work quality (Piryani & Piryani, 2017). However, as a rebuttal, while this statement is true, conflict occurs in stages, starting with initiation and ending with a resolution. Therefore, in the period between the occurrence and resolution of a conflict (the period when nurses seek multiple interventions), patient safety and speed of recovery are affected negatively (Vermeir et al., 2015). In other words, before a conflict is identified and resolved, it could have caused widespread damage to the well-being of patients.

In addition, patient recuperation depends on professional nursing care, and conflicts reduce care quality differently. According to Cullati et al. (2019), conflicts can alter “team dynamics and communication, decrease trust and team performance, and lead to poor mental health among professionals” (p. 43). Additionally, team conflicts could distract healthcare professionals’ attention and draw it away from patients, coupled with draining their personal resources, which is a threat to the workplace safety and environment, thus ultimately impacting the quality of care. In the process, the professional attributes of nursing are affected, and consequently, the quality of services offered degenerates. One of the opposing arguments to this statement is that there are not enough studies discussing the relationship between workplace conflicts and patient well-being (Shah, 2017). However, the lack of studies in this area does not mean that the effects of conflicts in the workplace do not affect the patients’ well-being. From deductive reasoning, if the well-being of patients is highly dependent on the professionalism of nurses, then anything that affects this aspect has a negative bearing on the services delivered.

Finally, the well-being of patients is one of the primary goals of nurses, and if conflicts occur in the workplace, this goal is replaced by the need to resolve the underlying dispute. For instance, as Cullati et al. (2019) posit, “team conflicts are detrimental to patient-centeredness. This result echoes an ethnographic study of morning inter-professional rounds in intensive care, which showed that conflicts prevented teams from involving patients in their own care” (p. 48). As such, decisions are made in isolation without patients’ participation and their opinions as part of the principle of autonomy. When patients are not involved in their care, the care outcomes are likely to be poor (Jerofke-Owen & Dahlman, 2019). However, it could be argued that effective leadership is required to manage conflicts in the nursing workplace, and patient care may not directly depend on disputes only (Piryani & Piryani, 2017). While this statement is true, the role of conflicts in affecting patient-centered care cannot be overlooked. As mentioned earlier, conflict among workers aggravates any other underlying problems, and collectively they affect the quality of care delivered to patients.

The best approach for completing a study on the effects of workplace conflict on nurses’ working environment and interference with patient recuperation is using a qualitative review. The research plan will entail the use of past studies focusing on the selected topic. The strategy will present additional insights into workplace-related conflict and how it affects nurses and patients (Cullati et al., 2019). The data will form the basis for a powerful model that can help address this problem and support the outcomes of more individuals. Some complications might emerge from this study design. One, the plan might not expose most of the causes and impacts of conflicts in nursing environments. Two, the model might be biased depending on the consulted articles and publications. The researcher will have to consider these possible challenges and solve them efficiently to deliver meaningful results.

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In conclusion, conflicts remain one of the critical factors affecting the quality of care. They might occur due to poor leadership, personal differences, and the absence of morale. Some workers might become less involved and identify new ways to oppress their colleagues. Such problems have the potential to influence patients’ medical experiences and outcomes negatively. This paper has explained how workplace conflicts affect nurses’ working environment and interfere with patient recuperation. The success of the nursing practice is highly dependent on teamwork, and conflict affects this aspect negatively, which ultimately means that nurses do not work optimally to deliver care services to patients. Consequently, the quality of care outcomes becomes poor as patients are not involved in their own care process, and nurses do not work collaboratively. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand how conflict affects the work environment and patients’ recovery speed, which necessitates the importance of this study.


Cullati, S., Bochatay, N., Maître, F., Laroche, T., Muller-Juge, Blondon, K. S., Perron, N. J., Bajwa, N. M., Vu, N. V., Kim, S., Savoldelli, G. L., Hudelson, P., Chopard, P., Nendaz, M. R. (2019). When team conflicts threaten quality of care: A study of health care professionals’ experiences and perceptions. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, 3(1), 43-51.

Jerofke-Owen, T., & Dahlman J. (2019). Patients’ perspectives on engaging in their healthcare while hospitalized. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 28(1-2):340-350.

Piryani, R. M., & Piryani, S. (2019). Conflict management in healthcare. Journal of Nepal Health Research Council, 16(41), 481-482.

Shah M. (2017). Impact of interpersonal conflict in health care setting on patient care; the role of nursing leadership style on resolving the conflict. Nurse & Care Open Access Journal, 2(2), 44-46.

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Vermeir, P., Vandijck, D., Degroote, S., Peleman, R., Verhaeghe, R., Mortier, E., Hallaert, G., Van Daele, S., Buylaert, W., & Vogelaers, D. (2015). Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 69(11), 1257–1267.

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NursingBird. (2022, July 14). The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2022, July 14). The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients.

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"The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients." NursingBird, 14 July 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients'. 14 July.


NursingBird. 2022. "The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients." July 14, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients." July 14, 2022.


NursingBird. "The Effects of Workplace Conflict on Nurses’ Work and Patients." July 14, 2022.