Face Negotiation Theory

Physician Communication in the Operating Room: Expanding Application of Face Negotiation Theory to the Health Communication Context


Using the Face-Negotiation Theory in respect to operating rooms, the purpose of this study was to apply face concern, conflict-management, and self-construal to the communication between operating-room physicians.

The main premise of FNT is how intercultural frameworks determine the type of face maintenance, which determines the type of conflict management styles used. Applying this premise to how operating-room physicians communicate, the author states, “…given the context of the operating room and the need for collaboration and interdependent communication, surgical-team members are expected to communicate within a relational or group structure,” (295)

From the research study that was completed and discussed, a sample of anesthesiologists and surgeons were asked the following questions:

  • To what extent do survey items associated with face negotiation research measure how physicians communicate and manage conflict in the context of the operating room?
  • To what extent do the same correlations exist among variables for data collected from operating-room physicians as they do for data collected from other populations studied using face-negotiation theory?
  • To what extent do survey data demonstrate evidence of variance between anesthesiologists and surgeons for the three variables associated with face-negotiation theory?

The methodology that was used throughout this study was by surveying 28 anesthesiologists and surgeons at a teaching hospital in Southwestern United States. After getting permission to conduct the study by the corresponding departments, the surveys were administered during individual departmental meetings.

The study’s overall findings were that surgeons are more other-face oriented and that anesthesiologists are more independently oriented. “Interestingly, the means were highest for both groups of physicians on interdependent self-construal and integrating conflict style, suggesting that both anesthesiologists and surgeons recognize the importance of collaboration as surgical team members,” (299).

When teaching hospitals train their surgeons in the future, they might consider training both surgical teams together and could stress the importance of interdependent teamwork practices.


Kirschbaum, K. (2012). Physician Communication in the Operating Room: Expanding Application of Face-Negotiation Theory to the Health Communication Context. Health Communication27(3), 292-301. doi:10.1080/10410236.2011.585449


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: