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Competency Domain: Interprofessional Conflict Resolution


Learners/practitioners actively engage self and others, including the client/patient/family, in positively and constructively addressing disagreements as they arise.


To support interprofessional collaborative practice, team members consistently address conflict in a constructive manner by:

  • valuing the potential positive nature of conflict
  • recognizing the potential for conflict to occur and taking constructive steps to address it
  •  identifying common situations that are likely to lead to disagreements or conflicts including;
    •  role ambiguity
    •  power gradients, and
    •  differences in goals
  • knowing and understanding strategies to deal with conflict
  • setting guidelines for addressing disagreements
  • effectively working to address and resolve disagreements, including analyzing the causes of conflict and working to reach an acceptable solution
  • establishing a safe environment in which to express diverse opinions
  • developing a level of consensus among those with differing views; allowing all members to feel their viewpoints have been heard no matter what the outcome.


To enable interprofessional collaboration it is essential for learners/practitioners, patients/clients/families and communities to know how to deal with disagreements amongst themselves. “Conflict positive” is a term that may be used to interpret differences of opinion as healthy and to be encouraged as constructive interactions. The events that lead to differences of opinion can come from positive and negative sources. Conflicts can arise from a number of sources:

  • ROLES: these arise over differing accountability issues, perceptions of role overloads or role ambiguity among learners/practitioners.
  • GOALS: differences related to goal can arise because of dissimilar philosophies towards care, personal religious/spiritual beliefs, and professional socialization that includes differing approaches to care.

Between health professionals and others (e.g., patients, family members, managers, etc): these arise because of differing values and styles as well as personality traits among health care providers.

Such disagreements generally relate to real and perceived power and hierarchy in interprofessional relationships. All students/practitioners are charged with identifying those issues that are likely to lead to disagreements, termed ‘triggers to conflicts’. Areas that have been cited include disagreements around: treatment approaches; who can provide informed consent, what is the diagnosis, the amount of patient/client/family/community input regarding goal setting, and discharge planning. Practitioners then need to develop a set of agreements to enable effective management of such situations. Agreements need to incorporate a commitment to constructive dissent, willingness to address and resolve conflicts, and a commitment to evaluate and manage one’s own behaviours. Furthermore, agreements need to ensure that the voice of patients/clients/families/communities is also considered, specifically: recognition of their expertise (i.e. their lived experiences), respect for their values, preferences and expressed needs; and consideration of their context (family, home, and work environments). Health care providers need to accept responsibility for recognizing when disagreements occur (or have the potential to occur) and apply the principles for addressing such disagreements to achieve an acceptable outcome.

source: A National Interprofessional Competency Framework, pp. 17-18.

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