Congratulations to Rachyl Pines, who has been awarded the 2019-2020 McCune Dissertation Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide Rachyl with a teaching release for the entire academic year, along with a monthly stipend. Here is her dissertation abstract:
Hospital healthcare staff are at high risk for workplace violence from aggressive patients (Farrell & Cubit, 2005). Mental health research on de-escalation and aggression management provides long lists of behaviors that preclude violence (e.g., providing adequate personal space; using open body language; speaking in a low and calm tone of voice; using open-ended sentences; and avoiding punitive or threatening language) and that improve staff workplace satisfaction. Thus, Study 1 trained 220 Cottage Health frontline staff in these skills in Fall 2018. Although these skills are useful, interpersonal skills-based focus ignores many of the communicative issues stemming from hospitals’ intergroup and organizational contexts (Watson et al., 2018). Thus, Study 2 invokes intergroup theory and communication competence broadly, and communication accommodation theory (CAT) more specifically to develop a training for all Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics staff (SBNC; approximately 170 staff across 8 locations in dental, general health, and mental health specialties). Training development will be collaborative with SBNC by shadowing clinical and non-clinical staff, and meeting regularly with human resources and development. Observations at SBNC also will help identify common situations of aggressive patients to be integrated into the trainings as practice scenarios to use their new skills.This dissertation will test how CAT-based training can prevent violence and change attitudes and organizational norms favorably in ways associated with higher accommodation. Such training can lead to a safer and more satisfying workplace, as well as better care for patients (Petit, 2005).