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Sex differences in operating room care giver perceptions of patient safety: a pilot study from the Veterans Health Administration Medical Team Training Program
  1. B T Carney1,
  2. P D Mills1,
  3. J P Bagian2,
  4. W B Weeks1
  1. 1Field Office, National Center for Patient Safety, White River Junction, Vermont, USA
  2. 2National Center for Patient Safety, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Brian T Carney, Field Office, VA National Center for Patient Safety (11Q), 215 N Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05009, USA; brian.carney{at}


Background Achieving a culture of safety is believed to be an important mechanism for improving patient safety. The Safety Attitudes Questionnaire (SAQ) measures provider perceptions of patient safety culture across six domains; higher scores denote more positive perceptions. Although professional differences on the SAQ have been explored, sex differences have not.

Methods The SAQ was administered to operating room (OR) care givers at nine Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. We determined the mean domain scores by care giver profession and sex, used analysis of variance to compare mean scores across professions, used t tests to compare mean scores between sexes and created regression models of the six patient safety domains.

Results The SAQ was completed by 187 OR care givers. Older care givers were significantly more likely to report favourable perceptions of teamwork climate; surgeons were significantly more likely to report favourable perceptions of working conditions; anaesthesia providers were significantly more likely to report favourable perceptions of stress recognition but also less favourable perceptions of safety climate. Women were significantly more likely to report less favourable perceptions of job satisfaction and working conditions.

Conclusion This pilot study confirms previously reported profession differences in OR care giver patient safety attitudes. We also found previously unreported sex differences. Educational efforts designed to enhance patient safety should be designed so that they address such differences.

  • Patient safety
  • interprofessional education
  • sex
  • communication
  • safety culture
  • teams
  • crew resource management

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  • Funding This work is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration. All authors work for the Veterans Health Administration. BTC, PDM and WBW are located in White River Junction, Vermont. JPB is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. PDM is the Director of the Field Office for the VA National Center for Patient Safety and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School. JPB the Chief Patient Safety Officer for Veterans Affairs, Director of the VA National Center for Patient Safety, Clinical Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Military and Emergency Medicine—Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine.

  • Competing interests None

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Dartmouth Committee for Protection of Human Subjects.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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