Two sides of the coin - general practitioners' experience of working in multidisciplinary teams

J Interprof Care. 2008 Jan;22(1):5-16. doi: 10.1080/13561820701722808.


Multidisciplinary teamwork, defined as the collaboration between different professional groups to achieve a common purpose, is commonly regarded as a means to meet the complex tasks that medicine has to deal with today. However, many attempts to introduce the method in primary care have failed and this is supposed to be partly due to the fact that general practitioners (GPs) did not participate in the implementation of the method. The aim of this investigation was to get a deeper understanding of their attitude to teamwork by interviewing nine GPs at four Swedish health care centres, where successful teamwork had been ongoing since 1997. Themes and categories in the interviews were identified according to content analysis. Although the attitude in general was in favour of teamwork, four major themes: time-consuming versus time-saving; shared responsibility versus main responsibility; medical expert versus generalist; shared knowledge versus all knowing, could be identified, which all revealed ambivalence towards teamwork among the interviewees. It was concluded that, if teamwork is to be successfully introduced into primary care, the GPs' self-perception has to be taken into consideration as has the prestige and status associated with their traditional role and the benefits of teamwork to the profession of medicine. Apart from time, teamwork requires, professional supervision and doctors need to be trained in this method as early as in medical school.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Physicians, Family
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Sweden