Narrowing the Gap Between Safety Policy and Practice: The Role of Nurses’ Implicit Theories and Heuristics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter addresses the question of why, despite enormous investments in developing clear policy guidelines and best practices for addressing safety issues, health care staff still decides to cut corners, and fail to comply with safety regulations. It begins with integrating two lines of research: psychological research on heuristics in the individual’s decision-making process, and organizational safety literature. The chapter discusses theoretical framework, before extrapolating this to empirical findings which illustrate nurses’ decision-making processes that discourage safety behaviour. It proposes managerial approaches aimed at changing nurses’ decision processes and at directing more attention to safety issues. In health care organizations, efforts to maintain patient safety typically focus on the role of repetition and routine. In such bureaucratic settings nurses frequently perceive that safety is the responsibility of the managers, while their primary focus is on the continuing the care for patient.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Socio-cultural Perspective on Patient Safety
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781317186731
ISBN (Print)9781409408628
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011 by Emma Rowley and Justin Waring.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Medicine


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