Objective: Valid teamwork assessment is imperative to determine physician competency and optimize patient outcomes. We systematically reviewed published instruments assessing teamwork in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education in general internal medicine and all medical subspecialties.
Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-process, CINAHL and PsycINFO from January 1979 through October 2012, references of included articles, and abstracts from four professional meetings. Two content experts were queried for additional studies.
Study eligibility: Included studies described quantitative tools measuring teamwork among medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians on single or multi-professional (interprofessional) teams.
Study appraisal and synthesis methods: Instrument validity and study quality were extracted using established frameworks with existing validity evidence. Two authors independently abstracted 30 % of articles and agreement was calculated.
Results: Of 12,922 citations, 178 articles describing 73 unique teamwork assessment tools met inclusion criteria. Interrater agreement was intraclass correlation coefficient 0.73 (95 % CI 0.63-0.81). Studies involved practicing physicians (142, 80 %), residents/fellows (70, 39 %), and medical students (11, 6 %). The majority (152, 85 %) assessed interprofessional teams. Studies were conducted in inpatient (77, 43 %), outpatient (42, 24 %), simulation (37, 21 %), and classroom (13, 7 %) settings. Validity evidence for the 73 tools included content (54, 74 %), internal structure (51, 70 %), relationships to other variables (25, 34 %), and response process (12, 16 %). Attitudes and opinions were the most frequently assessed outcomes. Relationships between teamwork scores and patient outcomes were directly examined for 13 (18 %) of tools. Scores from the Safety Attitudes Questionnaire and Team Climate Inventory have substantial validity evidence and have been associated with improved patient outcomes.
Limitations: Review is limited to quantitative assessments of teamwork in internal medicine.
Conclusions: There is strong validity evidence for several published tools assessing teamwork in internal medicine. However, few teamwork assessments have been directly linked to patient outcomes.