The empowerment paradox as a central challenge to patient centered medical home implementation in the veteran's health administration

J Interprof Care. 2015 Jan;29(1):26-33. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2014.937480. Epub 2014 Jul 23.


In this paper we present results of a mixed methods study conducted to identify barriers to team function among staff implementing patient aligned care teams - the Department of Veterans Affairs' patient centered medical home (PCMH) model. Using a convergent mixed methods design, we administered a standardized survey measure (Team and Individual Role Perception Survey) to assess work role challenge and engagement; and conducted discussion groups to gather context pertaining to role change. We found that the role of primary care providers is highly challenging and did not become less difficult over the initial year of implementation. Unexpectedly over the course of the first year nurse care managers reported a decrease in their perceptions of empowerment and clerical associates reported less skill variety. Qualitative data suggest that more skilled team members fail to delegate and share tasks within their teams. We characterize this interprofessional knowledge factor as an empowerment paradox where team members find it difficult to share tasks in ways that are counter to traditionally structured hierarchical roles. Health care systems seeking to implement PCMH should dedicate resources to facilitating within-team role knowledge and negotiation.

Keywords: Health and social care; interprofessional collaboration; mixed methods; patient centered practice; professional identity; team-based care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Professional Role / psychology
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Workload / psychology