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Table 3 Characteristics of data that contribute meaningfully to explanatory theories of human environments (adapted from references [9, 42,43,44,45,46,47,48])

From: Understanding contexts: how explanatory theories can help




Willingness of a person to be vulnerable to another person


Openness to new ideas and different perspectives; fully engaged presence; rich, discriminating awareness; seeking novelty, even in routine situations


Interactions in which individual people are sensitive to both their individual, narrowly focused tasks, and the way those roles and actions affect the roles and actions of the whole group

Respectful interaction

Honest, self-confident, appreciative interactions among individual agents—these often create new meaning


A collective cognitive property: one that supports moderate differences in individual perspectives, thoughts, and views of the world, to enhance group problem-solving and creativity

Social and task relatedness

Maintaining a balanced combination of work-related and personal aspects of care delivery, which can help staff provide care characterized by community, connectivity, and intimacy

Effective (rich/lean) communication

Using the mode of communication most appropriate to each situation:

• Rich: Face-to-face mode is best used when messages/issues are uncertain and/or ambiguous;

• Lean: Mass documents, numeric formats are best used for clearly defined, non-threatening issues