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  1. Ancarani, Alessandro
  2. Di Mauro, Carmela
  3. Giammanco, Maria D.


Background: Safety climate is considered beneficial to the improvement of hospital safety outcomes. Nevertheless, the relations between two of its key constituents, namely those stemming from leader-subordinate relations and coworker support for safety, are still to be fully ascertained.


Purpose: This article uses the theoretical lens of Social Exchange Theory to study the joint impact of leader-member exchange in the safety sphere and coworker support for safety on safety-related behavior at the hospital ward level. Social exchange constructs are further related to the existence of a shame-/blame-free environment, seen as a potential antecedent of safety behavior.


Research Design: A cross-sectional study including 166 inpatients in hospital wards belonging to 10 public hospitals in Italy was undertaken to test the hypotheses developed.


Methodology: Hypothesized relations have been analyzed through a fully mediated multilevel structural equation model. This methodology allows studying behavior at the individual level, while keeping into account the heterogeneity among hospital specialties.


Findings: Results suggest that the linkage between leader support for safety and individual safety behavior is mediated by coworker support on safety issues and by the creation of a shame-free environment.


Practical Implications: These findings call for the creation of a safety climate in which managerial efforts should be directed not only to the provision of new safety resources and the enforcement of safety rules but also to the encouragement of teamwork and freedom to report errors as ways to foster the capacity of the staff to communicate, share, and learn from each other.