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Incivility in healthcare: the impact of poor communication
  1. Joseph H Guppy1,
  2. Hedda Widlund2,
  3. Ross Munro1,
  4. Jim Price1
  1. 1 Department of Medical Education, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK
  2. 2 University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, Worthing, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ross Munro, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK; r.munro{at}


Incivility is a common issue within healthcare in the UK and internationally. Experienced by at least one-third of staff within the UK National Health Service, incivility has been demonstrated to have significant negative implications on both patient care and healthcare staff. These include contributing to direct medical errors, diagnostic inaccuracy and team communication, with a large associated cost burden, while for staff it has significant negative impacts on retention, productivity and morale. Proposed methods do already exist to both prevent and address incivility, and it is in the interest of healthcare institutions, for their patients and staff, to investigate incivility and adopt these methods. This review explores existing literature on the effects of incivility, researched strategies to address it, as well as the proposed ways of integrating these. Through raising awareness and exploring these issues, our aim is to increase recognition of incivility, as well as inspire healthcare managers and leaders to collectively take efforts to reduce the rates of incivility.

  • health policy
  • analysis
  • insight
  • multi-professional

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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  • Contributors JG, HW and RM are junior doctors trained at UK undergraduate medical schools and working within the NHS. JP is director of postgraduate medical and clinical education at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The authors collaborated on this paper following the PGCert in Medical Education’s module ‘Advanced Communication in Skills and Strategies in Medical Education’ led by JP. JG was the lead writer of the paper, HW supported with the design, review and edits of the paper, RM supported initial conceptualisation, review of the paper and design of figures, JP supervised and provided final edits.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement statement Input from patients’ experiences were not sought, however, JG drew on first-hand experiences of incivility and collaborated with the other authors on this.

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