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Chapter 6 Emotional affects – developing understanding of healthcare organisation

Individual and Organizational Perspectives on Emotion Management and Display

ISBN: 978-0-76231-310-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-411-9

Publication date: 6 June 2006


This paper looks at the current portrayal of emotion in healthcare as delivered within formal organisational settings, notably the UK National Health Service (NHS). Its purpose is to set out some examples of the problems and suggest new ways of conceptualising issues that will assist healthcare organisations in gaining a better understanding of the role of emotion and its impact, using appropriate examples. Developing understanding of the location of emotion and its differing constructions indicates that interdisciplinary and interpersonal boundaries differentiate interpretations of emotion, often for instrumental purpose as examples drawn particularly from the Public Inquiry into Paediatric Cardiology at Bristol Royal Infirmary (The Kennedy Report) demonstrate. The privileging of rationality over emotion as part of the dominant paradigm within the healthcare domain is shown to affect outcomes. However, the boundaries between organisations and individuals are changing, so are the location, access, technologies and timing of activities, and these are reconstructing healthcare organisation and the patient's experience of healthcare at both rational and emotional levels. It is suggested that in healthcare it is the patients’ journey through their lives (the macro context), as well as their individual encounters with the system at different times of need (the micro context), that iteratively constitute the construction of the emotional terrain. The conclusions drawn could have wider implications for the development of emotional understanding, across organisations that are subject to similar changes.


Mark, A. (2006), "Chapter 6 Emotional affects – developing understanding of healthcare organisation", Zerbe, W.J., Ashkanasy, N.M. and Härtel, C.E.J. (Ed.) Individual and Organizational Perspectives on Emotion Management and Display (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 145-166.



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