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McCullough and colleagues draw an historical line from the writings of Percival, who found himself resolving arguments (sometimes violent) between physicians, surgeons and apothecaries, to the concept of civility as a professional virtue and duty. The authors show that civility is a prerequisite to effective cooperation, which itself underpins patient safety and positive clinical outcomes—desirable endpoints of any discussion about healthcare. They exhort academic leaders to teach, role model and reward correct behaviours.1
Why then, as a clinician manager with a deep interest in fostering civility and psychological safety, am I not satisfied?
Three reasons: the paper does not adequately explore the reasons why, its focus is largely restricted to academic institutions, and it does not encompass the non-clinical workforce; as a result, its proposed solutions appear ungrounded.
Why are ‘good people’, who were attracted to careers that demand altruism and empathy, uncivil in the workplace? What are the competing goals that result in curt, disrespectful or downright rude exchanges? This has been studied. Leape et al concluded that endogenous factors such as personality, insecurity, anxiety, depression, narcissism and responses to prior …
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.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.