The implementation evaluation of primary care groups of practice: a focus on organizational identity

BMC Fam Pract. 2010 Feb 22;11:15. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-11-15.


Background: Since 2002 the Health Ministry of Québec (Canada) has been implementing a primary care organizational innovation called 'family medicine groups'. This is occurring in a political context in which the reorganization of primary care is considered necessary to improve health care system performance. More specifically, the purpose of this reform has been to overcome systemic deficiencies in terms of accessibility and continuity of care. This paper examines the first years of implementation of the family medicine group program, with a focus on the emergence of the organizational identity of one of the pilot groups located in the urban area of Montreal.

Methods: An in-depth longitudinal case study was conducted over two and a half years. Face to face individual interviews with key informants from the family medicine group under study were conducted over the research period considered. Data was gathered throuhg observations and documentary analysis. The data was analyzed using temporal bracketing and Fairclough's three-dimensional critical discourse analytical techniques.

Results: Three different phases were identified over the period under study. During the first phase, which corresponded to the official start-up of the family medicine group program, new resources and staff were only available at the end of the period, and no changes occurred in medical practices. Power struggles between physicians and nurses characterized the second phase, resulting in a very difficult integration of advanced nurse practitioners into the group. Indeed, the last phase was portrayed by initial collaborative practices associated with a sensegiving process prompted by a new family medicine group director.

Conclusions: The creation of a primary care team is a very challenging process that goes beyond the normative policy definitions of who is on the team or what the team has to do. To fulfil expectations of quality improvement through team-based care, health care professionals who are required to work together need shared time/space contexts to communicate; to overcome interprofessional and interpersonal conflicts; and to make sense of and define who they collectively are and what they do as a clinical team.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Group Practice / organization & administration*
  • Health Plan Implementation*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quebec
  • Urban Health Services