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Investigación y Educación en Enfermería

Print version ISSN 0120-5307On-line version ISSN 2216-0280


SANTOS BARRETO, Rejane et al. Conceptions of patient safety through the prism of social representations of intensive care nurses. Invest. educ. enferm [online]. 2021, vol.39, n.2, e06.  Epub June 22, 2021. ISSN 0120-5307.


To analyze the concepts of patient safety from the perspective of the social representations of intensive care nurses.


An exploratory, qualitative and quantitative study, based on the Theory of Social Representations, was conducted in a large hospital in northeastern Brazil, with 20 intensive care nurses. Data collection took place in 2019, using the techniques of free word association test and semi-structured interview. The lexicons apprehended in the test were processed by the OpenEvoc software, by prototypical analysis of the evocations, and for the interview data, thematic content analysis was used.


In the composition of the central nucleus, the elements of surveillance, knowledge, identification, communication, and quality stood out, and in the constitution of the peripheral system of the social representations of intensive care nurses permeate care, attention, attitudes, and normative aspects. The triangulation of the findings outlined three thematic categories: Central dimensions of critical patient safety; Attitudinal dimensions for patient safety in intensive care; Normative dimensions linked to the safe handling of the patient in the ICU.


The social representations of intensive care nurses reveal that the critical patient's conceptions of security involve effective surveillance and communication, promotion of a safe environment based on risk prevention, use of guides and protocols, teamwork, and the sense of responsibility and commitment to individuality of being cared for, elements that for this social group, are the differential for assertive and safe care.

Keywords : patient safety; intensive care units; nurses..

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