Bias in the trauma bay: A multicenter qualitative study on team communication

Brittany K. Bankhead, Shannon L. Bichard, Trent Seltzer, Lisa A. Thompson, Barbie Chambers, Bayli Davis, Lisa M. Knowlton, Leah C. Tatebe, Michael A. Vella, Ryan P. Dumas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Team communication and bias in and out of the operating room have been shown to impact patient outcomes. Limited data exist regarding the impact of communication bias during trauma resuscitation and multidisciplinary team performance on patient outcomes. We sought to characterize bias in communication among health care clinicians during trauma resuscitations. METHODS: Participation from multidisciplinary trauma team members (emergency medicine and surgery faculty, residents, nurses, medical students, emergency medical services personnel) was solicited from verified level 1 trauma centers. Comprehensive semistructured interviews were conducted and recorded for analysis; sample size was determined by saturation. Interviews were led by a team of doctorate communications experts. Central themes regarding bias were identified using Leximancer analytic software (Leximancer Pty Ltd., Brisbane, Australia). RESULTS: Interviews with 40 team members (54% female, 82% White) from 5 geographically diverse Level 1 trauma centers were conducted. More than 14,000 words were analyzed. Statements regarding bias were analyzed and revealed a consensus that multiple forms of communication bias are present in the trauma bay. The presence of bias is primarily related to sex but was also influenced by race, experience, and occasionally the leader's age, weight, and height. The most commonly described targets of bias were females and non-White providers unfamiliar to the rest of the trauma team. Most common sources of bias were White male surgeons, female nurses, and nonhospital staff. Participants perceived bias being unconscious but affecting patient care. CONCLUSION: Bias in the trauma bay is a barrier to effective team communication. Identification of common targets and sources of biases may lead to more effective communication and workflow in the trauma bay. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic and Epidemiological; Level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-777
Number of pages7
JournalThe journal of trauma and acute care surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Surgery


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