, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 265-278
Date: 18 May 2011

Promoting a Safety Culture in Health Care. Presenting a Relational-Interpretive Perspective

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This paper analyses various approaches to the concept of a ‘safety culture’ in terms of their epistemological assumptions regarding the nature of learning. As a result of this analysis, the study proposes a relational-interpretive framework for the promotion of safety in health care, which is based on relational theories and the philosophy of conceptual pragmatism as this can be used to integrate the various strands of current safety research. In particular, the approach based on a relational-interpretive perspective can bridge the apparent dualist gap that exists between the rational objectivist perspective and the relativist perspective on the role of learning in developing a safety culture. According to the relational-interpretive perspective of safety management that is proposed here, organizational members need to give continuous attention to the accepted organizational norms and values, which shape the safety culture. A case study from a health care safety project in Sweden is utilized to illustrate the ideas advanced in this paper.