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Dealing with conflict


Working together

Sources of conflict


  • Conflict arises from real or perceived differences in individual needs, interests, or values.
  • There are many possible sources of conflict in healthcare.
  • Conflicts due to differences in values and beliefs may be especially difficult to manage, as these values and beliefs are often deeply held and intrinsic to one's personal identity.

In healthcare, conflicts can arise with patients, families, physician colleagues, other healthcare professionals, administrators, and others. There are 5 main sources of conflict: interpersonal relationships, information, interests, organizational structures and roles, and values and beliefs.

Click on the triangles that appear in the image below to display explanatory text.

Information: Lack of data, misinformation, differing interpretations of data, different opinions on relevance of data
Interest: Procedural, psychological, substantive
Organizational Structures and Roles: Power differences, unequal control of resources, unclear lines of authority, time constraints, environmental constraints
Values and Beliefs: Different world views, ideology, culture, etc, different criteria for evaluating ideasInterpersonal Relationships: Miscommunication, strong emotions, stereotyping, repetitive negative behaviour, destructive behaviours
information interest organization values interpersonal

Think about it

Think of a recent conflictual situation which you observed or in which you participated.

What were the sources of conflict?

Pay special attention to whether you have all the information you need to analyze the situation, and if not, how you would obtain it.