Measuring teamwork and taskwork of community-based "teams" delivering life-saving health interventions in rural Zambia: a qualitative study

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013 Jun 27;13:84. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-13-84.


Background: The use of teams is a well-known approach in a variety of settings, including health care, in both developed and developing countries. Team performance is comprised of teamwork and task work, and ascertaining whether a team is performing as expected to achieve the desired outcome has rarely been done in health care settings in resource-limited countries. Measuring teamwork requires identifying dimensions of teamwork or processes that comprise the teamwork construct, while taskwork requires identifying specific team functions. Since 2008 a community-based project in rural Zambia has teamed community health workers (CHWs) and traditional birth attendants (TBAs), supported by Neighborhood Health Committees (NHCs), to provide essential newborn and continuous curative care for children 0-59 months. This paper describes the process of developing a measure of teamwork and taskwork for community-based health teams in rural Zambia.

Methods: Six group discussions and pile-sorting sessions were conducted with three NHCs and three groups of CHW-TBA teams. Each session comprised six individuals.

Results: We selected 17 factors identified by participants as relevant for measuring teamwork in this rural setting. Participants endorsed seven functions as important to measure taskwork. To explain team performance, we assigned 20 factors into three sub-groups: personal, community-related and service-related.

Conclusion: Community and culturally relevant processes, functions and factors were used to develop a tool for measuring teamwork and taskwork in this rural community and the tool was quite unique from tools used in developed countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Health Workers*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwifery*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Rural Health Services / standards*
  • Rural Population
  • Workforce
  • Zambia / epidemiology