The Role of Communication During Trauma Activations: Investigating the Need for Team and Leader Communication Training

Jessica Raley, Rani Meenakshi, Daniel L Dent, Ross Willis, Karla Lawson, Sarah Duzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective Fatal errors due to miscommunication among members of trauma teams are 2 to 4 times more likely to occur than in other medical teams, yet most trauma team members do not receive communication effectiveness training. A needs assessment was conducted to examine trauma team membersʼ miscommunication experiences and research scientistsʼ evaluations of live trauma activations. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that communication training is necessary and highlight specific team communication competencies that trauma teams should learn to improve communication during activations. Design Data were collected in 2 phases. Phase 1 required participants to complete a series of surveys. Phase 2 included live observations and assessments of pediatric trauma activations using the assessment of pediatric resuscitation team assessments (APRC-TA) and assessment of pediatric resuscitation leader assessments (APRC-LA). Setting Data were collected at a southwestern pediatric hospital. Trauma team members and leaders completed surveys at a meeting and were observed while conducting activations in the trauma bay. Trained research scientists and clinical staff used the APRC-TA and APRC-LA to measure trauma teamsʼ medical performance and communication effectiveness. Participants The sample included 29 healthcare providers who regularly participate in trauma activations. Additionally, 12 live trauma activations were assessed monday to friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. Results Team members indicated that communication training should focus on offering assistance, delegating duties, accepting feedback, and controlling emotional expressions. Communication scores were not significantly different from medical performance scores. None of the teams were coded as effective medical performance and ineffective team communication and only 1 team was labeled as ineffective leader communication and effective medical performance. Conclusions Communication training may be necessary for trauma teams and offer a deeper understanding of the communication competencies that should be addressed. The APRC-TA and APRC-LA both include team communication competencies that could be used as a guide to design training for trauma team members and leaders. Researchers should also continue to examine recommendations for improved team and leader communication during activations using in-depth interviews and focus groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Professionalism
  • assessment
  • communication
  • leader
  • needs, assessment
  • team
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


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