Smooth working relationships between nurses and doctors are necessary for efficient health care delivery. However, previous studies have shown that this is often absent with negative impact on the quality of health care delivery. In 2002, we studied factors that affect nurse-doctor working relationships in University Teaching Hospitals (UTH) in Southern Nigeria in order to characterize it and identify managerial and training needs that might be used to improve it.
Questionnaire survey of doctors and nurses working in four UTH in Southern Nigeria was done in 2002. The setting and subjects were selected by random sampling procedures. Information on factors in domains of work, union activities, personnel and hospital management were studied using closed and open-ended questionnaires.
Nurse-doctor working relationships were statistically significantly affected by poor after-work social interaction, staff shortages, activist unionism, disregard for one's profession, and hospital management and government policies. In general, nurses had better opinion of doctors' work than doctors had about nurses' work.
Working relationships between doctors and nurses need to be improved through improved training and better working conditions, creation of better working environment, use of alternative methods of conflict resolution and balanced hospital management and government policies. This will improve the retention of staff, job satisfaction and efficiency of health care delivery in Nigeria.