All professionals are equal but some professionals are more equal than others? Dominance, status and efficiency in Swedish interprofessional teams

Scand J Caring Sci. 2012 Sep;26(3):505-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2011.00955.x. Epub 2011 Dec 5.


This study explored status differences in interprofessional teams and their link with efficiency. In total, 62 teams (423 individuals) from occupational health-care, psychiatry, rehabilitation and school health-care responded to a questionnaire. Fifty-four of those teams (360 individuals) also participated in an observation session simulating problem-solving team meetings. Data were reduced to a number of indexes: self-assessed/perceived equality, functional influence and efficiency; and observed verbal dominance/activity and problem-solving capacity. Perceived status differences within the teams appeared moderate, irrespective of professional belonging. With respect to verbal dominance during meetings, however, the findings revealed a hierarchy with psychologists, physicians and social workers at the top together with special education teachers. No relationship was found between self-assessed efficiency and actual problem-solving nor between observed verbal activity and problem-solving. The findings suggest that different problems may demand different prerequisites to be solved effectively: successful solving of simple convergent problems correlated negatively with equality, whereas functional influence was a predictor of success with respect to divergent, complex problem-solving. The findings raise questions about leadership and procedures during team meetings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Problem Solving
  • Professional Competence*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden