Theoretical Foundation for Research in Communication using Information and Communication Technology Devices in Healthcare: An Interdisciplinary Scoping Review

Arun Keepanasseril, Kathleen Ann McKibbon, Alfonso Iorio

Faulty communication between team members is one of the most important factors preventing substantial improvement in patient safety. Aviation, nuclear power and defense have been able to improve their safety record by adopting theory and model based solutions. In contrast, healthcare's thrust towards modern communication devices is largely devoid of theoretical foundation. The objective of this scoping review is to compile communication theories, frameworks, and models used by high risk organizations outside healthcare to study and resolve workplace communication issues. The healthcare databases searched included Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, and PsycInfo. In addition, we searched engineering and science literature to include articles in the fields of information sciences, computer sciences, nuclear power generation, aviation, the military and other domains such as sociology that address the science and theory of communication. Comprehensive searching was also done in the communication studies literature. We also reviewed conference proceedings and grey literature and conducted citation tracking. Our initial systematic search yielded 15,365 articles. Hand searching and reviewing references resulted in a set of 181 articles. 144 full text articles were read and 40 of them were selected to be included in the review. We were able to identify 14 theories and 12 models which could be applied in hospital communication research. However, it must be noted that most of them have not yet been applied in biomedical research in hospital communication and as such their applicability can only be suggested-a gap which future research may be able to address. Formulation of a custom model representing the unique features and complexities of communication within hospitals is recommended.

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