On-line version ISSN 0379-8577
Interdepartmental communication in a hospital setting is fundamental to the provision of quality patient care. Effective communication modes are important because they result in the improvement of patient care (Tappen, 1995:181). Preliminary investigations into the main problems that underscore patients' dissatisfaction have identified, among others, the failure of health professionals to communicate effectively. In this study an attempt was made to describe experiences of health professionals with regard to inter-departmental communications , define inter-departmental communication in selected departments of a tertiary hospital campus in the Limpopo Province and lastly, to formulate inter-departmental communication guidelines for health professionals. A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research method was followed as a holistic approach in research for participants to describe their experiences regarding the phenomenon in question (Brink, 2006:113). Data were collected through individual unstructured interviews in all selected departments for each participant. The researchers employed the principles of Guba and Lincoln (1985) in De Vos (1998:331) relating to trustworthiness and adhered to the ethical standards as set by DENOSA (1998) to ensure the quality of the study. Three themes and categories emerged from the data analysis using Tech's open coding approach (1990) as outlined in De Vos (1998:343), namely, existence versus non-existence of inter-departmental meetings, inter-departmental communication barriers and limited communication guidelines. The guidelines were developed using Ellis, Gates and Kenworthy's model of effective communication (1995:59) that includes the establishment of interdepartmental meetings, using effective communication modes, providing accurate and constant reporting, establishing staff development programmes, creating an effective communication environment and using skills for effective communication.
Keywords : Interdepartmental communication; Health professionals; Tertiary hospital campus.