Finding common ground? Evaluating an intervention to improve teamwork among primary health-care professionals
Objective. Multidisciplinary care has been shown as the most effective option for chronic disease. The aim of the Team-link study was to assess the effectiveness of an intervention to improve teamwork among general practitioners (GPs), practice staff and allied health professionals (AHPs). This paper describes changes to teamwork using qualitative data collected in the study. Design. Qualitative data about changes in internal and external professional collaboration were collected from facilitators’ observations, GPs’ reports and responses to a survey of AHPs assessing multidisciplinary teamwork. Setting. Multidisciplinary teams within general practices and external collaborations with AHPs including dietitians, diabetic educators, exercise physiologists, podiatrists, psychologists and physiotherapists. Participants. GPs, practice nurses, practice staff, AHPs. Intervention. A 6-month intervention consisting of an educational workshop and structured facilitation using specially designed materials, backed up by informal telephone support, was delivered to 26 practices. Main Outcome Measure. Data were analysed thematically using an approach based on identifying actors and associated collaborative actions. Results. New and enhanced communication pathways were observed between GPs, practice staff, patients and AHPs following the intervention. The enhanced information sharing expedited communication and improved interprofessional collaboration within general practices and with AHPs. There was evidence of increased patient participation and empowerment in the care process and improved collaboration by practice staff and allied health providers. Conclusion. The Team-link intervention improved professional collaboration among GPs, practice staff, AHPs and patients, increasing understanding and trust and enhancing multidisciplinary teamwork for chronic disease care in primary care settings.