Barriers to effective nurse-patient communication in the emergency department
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Barriers to effective nurse-patient communication in the emergency department

Mahmoud Al-Kalaldeh Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, The University of Jordan, Aqaba, Jordan
Nawaf Amro Master of Clinical Nursing, Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan
Mohamad Qtait Lecturer, Al-Quds University, East Jerusalem, Palestine
Abdallah Alwawi PhD Candidate, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the factors that contribute to effective nurse-patient communication in the emergency department

  • To recognise what emergency nurses perceive to be the most significant barriers to effective nurse-patient communication

  • To gain awareness of the actions that you could take to improve your communication skills

Background It has been identified that ineffective nurse-patient communication in the emergency department (ED) can lead to frustration, mistrust and inadequate pain management. Therefore, it is important to recognise the potential barriers to effective communication, including nurse and patient-related factors.

Aim To identify what emergency nurses perceive as barriers to nurse-patient communication, and if there is any difference in the perception of communication barriers between nurses’ demographic subgroups.

Method A total of 199 emergency nurses were recruited using convenience sampling, from nine hospitals in the West Bank, Palestine. These nurses completed a 27-item questionnaire that encompassed six domains of barriers that may affect nurse-patient communication: demographic, knowledge-related, environmental, social, economic and psychological factors.

Results Of the six domains covered by the questionnaire, environmental factors scored the highest, meaning that emergency nurses perceived these to be the most significant barriers to effective nurse-patient communication. This was followed by knowledge-related and psychological factors. Knowledge-related factors were perceived to be a greater communication barrier by male nurses more than female nurses, and by younger nurses more than older nurses.

Conclusion To enhance nurse-patient communication, it is important to establish a comfortable working environment and to provide ongoing training for nurses to develop their communication skills.

Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2020.e1969

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Al-Kalaldeh M, Amro N, Qtait M et al (2020) Barriers to effective nurse-patient communication in the emergency department. Emergency Nurse. doi: 10.7748/en.2020.e1969


The authors are indebted to all emergency department nurses who participated in the study and provided their valuable contribution, and are thankful to hospital administration and nursing managers for their co-operation

Published online: 14 April 2020

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