Commenced in January 2007
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Observations of Conformity in the Health Professions

Authors: Tanya N. Beran, Michelle A. Drefs, Ghazwan Altabbaa, Nouf Al Harbi, Noof Al Baz, Elizabeth Oddone Paolucci

Abstract:

Although interprofessional practice is a collaborative approach for problem solving among health professionals, its implementation can present challenges to its team members. In particular, they may feel pressured to agree with or conform to other members who share information that is contrary to their own understanding. Obtaining evidence of this phenomenon is challenging, as team members may underreport their conformity behaviors due to reasons such as social desirability. In this paper, a series of studies are reviewed in which several approaches to assessing conformity in the health care professions are tested. Simulations, questionnaires, and behavior checklists can be used to measure conformity behaviors. Insights from these studies show that a significant proportion of people conform either in the presence or absence of others, express a variety of verbal and nonverbal behaviors when considering whether to conform to others, may shift between conforming and moments later not conforming (and vice versa), and may not accurately report whether they conformed. A method of measuring conformity using the implicit bias test is also discussed. People at all levels in the healthcare system are encouraged to develop both formal and informal strategies to manage the conformity pressures that people face.

Keywords: Conformity, decision-making, interprofessional teams, medical simulation.

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