Teamwork: a concept analysis

J Adv Nurs. 2008 Jan;61(2):232-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04496.x.


Aim: This paper is a report of an analysis of the concept of teamwork.

Background: Teamwork is seen as an important facilitator in delivering quality healthcare services internationally. However, research studies of teamwork in health care are criticized for lacking a basic conceptual understanding of what this concept represents. A universal definition for healthcare settings and professionals is missing from published literature.

Method: Walker and Avant's approach was used to guide this concept analysis. Literature searches used bibliographic databases (Medline, CINAHL, Web of Science, Proquest CSA), internet search engines (GoogleScholar), and hand searches. Literature published between 1976 and 2006 was reviewed but only material in English was included.

Findings: Based on the analysis undertaken, teamwork is proposed as a dynamic process involving two or more healthcare professionals with complementary backgrounds and skills, sharing common health goals and exercising concerted physical and mental effort in assessing, planning, or evaluating patient care. This is accomplished through interdependent collaboration, open communication and shared decision-making, and generates value-added patient, organizational and staff outcomes.

Conclusion: Praising the value of teamwork without a common understanding of what this concept represents endangers both research into this way of working and its effective utilization in practice. The proposed definition helps reconcile discrepancies between how this concept is understood by nurses and doctors, as well as allied health professionals. A common understanding can facilitate communication in educational, research and clinical settings and is imperative for improving clarity and validity of future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*