Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Purpose and Scope

The focus for the development of this guideline was managing and mitigating interpersonal conflict among health-care teams with the view that while some conflict is preventable, healthy conflict can also be beneficial.

This guideline addresses:

  • Knowledge, competencies and behaviours for effective conflict management;
  • Educational requirements and strategies;
  • Policy changes at both the organizational and system levels needed to support and sustain an environment that understands, prevents, mitigates and manages conflict;
  • Implementation strategies and tools; and,
  • Future research opportunities.


  • Conflict is inevitable in work settings.
  • The perceived and actual differences that may contribute to conflict include, but are not limited to: professional identity; cultural identity; gender; gender identity; nationality; race or ethnic origin; colour; religion; age; sexual orientation; marital status; educational background; disability; work values; goals; and interests.
  • Leadership is required across all organizational and Health-care sector levels to create environments that practice management and mitigation of conflict.
  • All conflict has a meaning and/or contributing underlying cause.
  • Understanding, mitigating and managing conflict may result in positive outcomes such as new ideas and initiatives.