School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

Patient Safety/Quality Improvement Primer, Part IV: Psychological Safety-Drivers to Outcomes and Well-being

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Psychological safety is the concept that an individual feels comfortable asking questions, voicing ideas or concerns, and taking risks without undue fear of humiliation or criticism. In health care, psychological safety is associated with improved patient safety outcomes, increased clinician engagement, and greater creativity. A culture of psychological safety is imperative for physician well-being and satisfaction, which in turn directly affect delivery of care. For health care professionals, psychological safety creates an environment conducive to trust and openness, enabling the team to focus on high-quality care. In contrast, unprofessional behavior reduces psychological safety and threatens the culture of the organization. This patient safety/quality improvement primer considers the barriers and facilitators to psychological safety in health care; outlines principles for creating a psychologically safe environment; and presents strategies for managing conflict, microaggressions, and lapses in professionalism. Individuals and organizations share the responsibility of promoting psychological safety through proactive policies, conflict management, interventions for microaggressions, and cultivation of emotional intelligence.


© 2022 American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.

Publication Title

Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department