Team Communication Patterns in Critical Situations

Floris van den Oever*, Jan Maarten Schraagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Teams operating in time-pressured, dynamic environments frequently need to cope with critical situations varying in complexity and hazard. To cope with critical situations, teams may have to adapt their communication processes. Adaptation of team communication processes has been studied mostly at short time frames (minutes). Literature on adapting communication at longer time frames is limited (hours, relative to minutes). We used the relational event model to compare team communication in critical and noncritical situations of pediatric cardiac surgeries and Apollo 13 flight director’s voice loops. Teams showed some flattening of communication structures in critical situations. Both teams maintained institutional roles and displayed closed-loop and information-seeking communication. Communication patterns may change further with increasing criticality. The exact way teams adapt to critical situations may differ depending on team, team size and situation. Findings may inform team training procedures or team structure development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-51
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of cognitive engineering and decision making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • adaptation
  • coordination
  • relational event framework
  • resilience
  • team communication
  • n/a OA procedure

Cite this