Difficulties in collaboration: a critical incident study of interprofessional healthcare teamwork

J Interprof Care. 2008 Mar;22(2):191-203. doi: 10.1080/13561820701760600.


The challenge for members of interprofessional teams is to manage the team processes that occur in all teamwork while simultaneously managing their individual professional identities. The aim of this study was to identify and describe difficulties perceived by health professionals in interprofessional teamwork. Utterances on verbal actions and resolutions were also explored to enable a discussion of the implications for interprofessional learning. Individual interviews using a Critical Incident Technique were performed with 18 Swedish professionals working in healthcare teams, and examined with qualitative content analysis. The main findings show difficulties related to the team dynamic that arose when team members acted towards one another as representatives of their professions, difficulties that occurred when the members' various knowledge contributions interacted in the team, and difficulties related to the influence of the surrounding organization. The perceived consequences of the difficulties, beyond individual consequences, were restrictions on the use of collaborative resources to arrive at a holistic view of the patient's problem, and barriers to providing patient care and service in the desired manner. This paper also discusses how experiences of managing difficulties entailed various forms of interprofessional learning situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Sweden
  • Task Performance and Analysis