What fosters or prevents interprofessional teamworking in primary and community care? A literature review

Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Jan;45(1):140-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2007.01.015. Epub 2007 Mar 26.


Background: The increase in prevalence of long-term conditions in Western societies, with the subsequent need for non-acute quality patient healthcare, has brought the issue of collaboration between health professionals to the fore. Within primary care, it has been suggested that multidisciplinary teamworking is essential to develop an integrated approach to promoting and maintaining the health of the population whilst improving service effectiveness. Although it is becoming widely accepted that no single discipline can provide complete care for patients with a long-term condition, in practice, interprofessional working is not always achieved.

Objectives: This review aimed to explore the factors that inhibit or facilitate interprofessional teamworking in primary and community care settings, in order to inform development of multidisciplinary working at the turn of the century.

Design: A comprehensive search of the literature was undertaken using a variety of approaches to identify appropriate literature for inclusion in the study. The selected articles used both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Findings: Following a thematic analysis of the literature, two main themes emerged that had an impact on interprofessional teamworking: team structure and team processes. Within these two themes, six categories were identified: team premises; team size and composition; organisational support; team meetings; clear goals and objectives; and audit. The complex nature of interprofessional teamworking in primary care meant that despite teamwork being an efficient and productive way of achieving goals and results, several barriers exist that hinder its potential from becoming fully exploited; implications and recommendations for practice are discussed.

Conclusions: These findings can inform development of current best practice, although further research needs to be conducted into multidisciplinary teamworking at both the team and organisation level, to ensure that enhancement and maintenance of teamwork leads to an improved quality of healthcare provision.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Communication
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Group Processes
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Leadership
  • Nursing Research
  • Organizational Objectives
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Professional Role / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • Social Support
  • Socialization
  • United Kingdom