Perception of risk: a study of A&E nurses and NHS managers

Gordon C.A. Dickson, Lesley Price, William W. MacLaren, William M. Stein

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This exploratory study investigates perceptions of two groups of NHS staff, of a range of risks, topical and relevant to accident and emergency (A&E). Literature suggests that the effectiveness of a risk management strategy is lessened if staff exposed to risk, and managers, have different perceptions of the nature and severity of the risk. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to registered A&E nurses and to Trust managers at directorate level and above, working in five large inner-city NHS Trusts. Managers and nurses were asked to quantify their perceptions of nine defined adverse events. They were also asked to identify the jobholder with day-to-day responsibility for managing four specific risks. Completed forms were obtained from 38 per cent of managers and nurses. Results showed broadly that managers tended to quantify risks of violence and stress to A&E nurses less highly than did nurses. By contrast, they tended to quantify risks to patients more highly than did nurses. Overall, a coherent pattern of difference in risk perception between the two groups was identified. It is argued that identification of differences of perception is an essential part of the risk management process. Illustrations are given of ways in which these differences can undermine the effectiveness of a risk management strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-320
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Health Organization and Management
Issue number4/5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • risk management
  • accident and emergency
  • NHS
  • hospital management


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