OBJECTIVES: Delivering health care is emotionally demanding. Emotional competencies that enable caregivers to identify and handle emotions may be important to deliver safe care, as it improves resilience and enables caregivers to make better decisions. A relevant emotional competence could be psychological detachment, which refers to the ability to psychologically detach from work and patients in off-duty hours. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between psychological detachment and patient safety. In addition, the ability of teams to create a safe environment to discuss errors and take personal risks, i.e., psychological safety, was explored as an underlying condition for psychological detachment.
METHODS: A total of 1219 caregivers (response rate = 44%) from 229 teams in two long-term care organizations completed a survey on psychological safety and psychological detachment at T0. Team managers rated patient safety of those teams at two points in time (T0 and T1).
RESULTS: Two-level regression analysis showed that both psychological safety (β = 0.72, P < 0.01) and psychological detachment (β = 0.54, P < 0.05) relate directly to patient safety. Psychological safety relates positively to psychological detachment (β = 0.48, P < 0.01) but was, however, not an underlying condition.
CONCLUSIONS: Perceived patient safety is enhanced by emotional competencies, at individual level by psychological detachment and at team level by psychological safety. Caregivers should be aware of the important influence emotional competencies have on patient safety and be trained to develop these competencies. Future research should focus on exploring underlying conditions for emotional competencies.