Using realist synthesis to understand the mechanisms of interprofessional teamwork in health and social care

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53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Realist synthesis offers a novel and innovative way to interrogate the large literature on interprofessional teamwork in health and social care teams. This article introduces realist synthesis and its approach to identifying and testing the underpinning processes (or "mechanisms") that make an intervention work, the contexts that trigger those mechanisms and their subsequent outcomes. A realist synthesis of the evidence on interprofessional teamwork is described. Thirteen mechanisms were identified in the synthesis and findings for one mechanism, called "Support and value" are presented in this paper. The evidence for the other twelve mechanisms ("collaboration and coordination", "pooling of resources", "individual learning", "role blurring", "efficient, open and equitable communication", "tactical communication", "shared responsibility and influence", "team behavioural norms", "shared responsibility and influence", "critically reviewing performance and decisions", "generating and implementing new ideas" and "leadership") are reported in a further three papers in this series. The "support and value" mechanism referred to the ways in which team members supported one another, respected other's skills and abilities and valued each other's contributions. "Support and value" was present in some, but far from all, teams and a number of contexts that explained this variation were identified. The article concludes with a discussion of the challenges and benefits of undertaking this realist synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

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