Multidisciplinary team working: Collaboration and conflict

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 15, issue 1 (2006) pp. 19-28

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The aim of this paper is to report on findings identifying some of the difficulties encountered by the multidisciplinary team in the development and implementation of a care pathway for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Policy direction has shifted towards greater team working and blurring of professional boundaries. Moreover, there is greater need to deliver care according to set standards and for patients to reach particular outcomes of care. Care pathways are relatively new for psychiatry and will potentially uncover tensions within the team. Data were collected by participant observation and semistructured interviews over a period of 12 months on an acute psychiatric unit. The care team developed the care pathway and the process of development and implementation was observed through action research. Cross-sectional indexing was used to analyse the data, and themes were developed using interview and observational data collection methods. Clinicians argued strongly for clear role boundaries but also defended their perceived control over health care from other professions. The findings indicate that designing a care pathway for people with schizophrenia may produce conflicting perceptions from the team. Conflict may arise through professions being unwilling to accept plurality over roles, which may hinder progress in meeting the needs of patients. The findings also counter the impression that care pathways can be implemented with little impact on the team.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Hospital care
  • Multidisciplinary team working
  • Schizophrenia

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  • Adrian Jones

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