Objective: To test whether a team training intervention in stroke rehabilitation is associated with improved patient outcomes.
Design: A cluster randomized trial of 31 rehabilitation units comparing stroke outcomes between intervention and control groups.
Setting: Thirty-one Veterans Affairs medical centers.
Participants: A total of 237 clinical staff on 16 control teams and 227 staff on 15 intervention teams. Stroke patients (N=487) treated by these teams before and after the intervention.
Intervention: The intervention consisted of a multiphase, staff training program delivered over 6 months, including: an off-site workshop emphasizing team dynamics, problem solving, and the use of performance feedback data; and action plans for process improvement; and telephone and videoconference consultations. Control and intervention teams received site-specific team performance profiles with recommendations to use this information to modify team process.
Main outcome measures: Three patient outcomes: functional improvement as measured by the change in motor items of the FIM instrument, community discharge, and length of stay (LOS).
Results: For both the primary (stroke only) and secondary analyses (all patients), there was a significant difference in improvement of functional outcome between the 2 groups, with the percentage of stroke patients gaining more than a median FIM gain of 23 points increasing significantly more in the intervention group (difference in increase, 13.6%; P=.032). There was no significant difference in LOS or rates of community discharge.
Conclusions: Stroke patients treated by staff who participated in a team training program were more likely to make functional gains than those treated by staff receiving information only. Team based clinicians are encouraged to examine their own team. (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00237757).