Background: Teamwork is seen as an important element of patient care in acute hospital settings. The complexity of the journey of care for patients highlights the need for health professionals to collaborate and communicate clearly with each other. Health organizations in western countries are committed to improving patient safety through education of staff and teamwork education programs have been integral to this focus. There are no current systematic reviews of the experience of health professionals who participate in teamwork education in acute hospital settings.
Objectives: The objective of this systematic review was to search for the best available evidence on the experiences of health professionals who participate in teamwork education in acute hospital settings.
Inclusion criteria types of participants: This review considered studies reporting on experiences of registered health professionals who work in acute hospitals. This included medical, nursing and midwifery and allied health professionals.
Phenomena of interest: The focus of the meta-synthesis was the experiences and reflections of health professionals who were involved in teamwork education in acute hospital settings.
Context: The geographical context for this review was acute hospitals in rural or metropolitan settings in Australia and overseas countries. The review focused on the experiences of health professionals who work in acute hospitals and participated in teamwork education programs.
Types of studies: This review considered studies that focused on qualitative data including, but not limited to, designs such as phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, action research and feminist research.In the absence of research studies, other text such as opinion papers, discussion papers and reports were considered. Studies published in English and from 1990 to 2013 were included in this review.
Search strategy: The literature search for relevant papers occurred between 13 September and 26 October 2013. A three-step search strategy was utilized in this review. The databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, Embase and Scopus.
Methodological quality: The standardized critical appraisal tool the Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument (JBI-QARI) was used to assess the methodological quality of included papers.
Data extraction: Data that included statements and text of interest was extracted from papers included in the study using the standardized data extraction tool from JBI-QARI.
Data synthesis: Qualitative research findings were pooled using JBI-QARI. This involved the aggregation and synthesis of findings to generate a set of statements that represented that aggregation.
Results: In total, 116 papers were selected for analysis of full text, 11 papers were selected for critical appraisal and seven papers were selected for data synthesis. This resulted in 44 findings. The findings were assigned to 16 categories based on identified similarities across the papers. The categories were integrated into six meta-syntheses. These were: Meta-synthesis One: It is important to recognize that organizational culture and expectations have an impact on health professionals' participation and experience of teamwork education. Meta-synthesis Two: Understanding how successful teams function is central to the development of teamwork education programs and the experience of participants. Meta-synthesis Three: A health professional's experience of teamwork education will be influenced by his/her starting point of learning. Meta-synthesis Four: Participants highly value teamwork education programs that are implemented by facilitators who create practical authentic learning opportunities and foster reflection and debriefing for participants. Meta-synthesis Five: High fidelity simulation used with specific communication strategies provides a powerful learning opportunity for health professions to practice teamwork skills. Meta-synthesis Six: Participants have increased confidence and are motivated to apply their newly learnt teamwork skills into their daily practice.
Conclusions: The review identified qualitative evidence that can guide organizations and education facilitators in the development and implementation of teamwork education in acute hospital settings. Although the quality of the specific teamwork education programs was an important factor, there were a number of issues that also impacted on the experiences of health professionals who participated in teamwork education programs. These included the context that the program was delivered in, the diversity of health care teams, starting points of individual learners, the type of tools utilized in education programs, the levels of confidence and motivation of learners post training and the opportunity to transfer into practice new learning.
Implications for practice: Drawing from the synthesized findings of the review, recommendations for practice have been devised in order to guide the development and implementation of teamwork education in acute hospital settings and to improve the experience of participating health professionals. The Joanna Briggs Institute utilizes Grades of Recommendation to rate a health management strategy in terms of its desirable effects, evidence of adequate quality supporting its use, benefits of use, and the inclusion of patient experience, values and preferences. A strong recommendation has a Grade A and a weak recommendation has a Grade B. The FAME (Feasibility, Appropriateness, Meaningfulness and Effectiveness) scale was used to inform the strength of the following six recommendations for practice from the review: RECOMMENDATION ONE: All members of a team should be encouraged by their organization/managers to participate in teamwork education programs in order to foster a positive culture of learning and teamwork within the team.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation is appropriate and applicable to all health professionals in acute hospital settings, is associated with positive experiences for participants of teamwork education programs and has a beneficial effect on participants.
Recommendation two: Facilitators of teamwork education programs should understand how successful teams function and consider these factors when planning or delivering training.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation is associated with positive experiences for participants and creates a beneficial effect to the quality of a teamwork education program.
Recommendation three: Facilitators of teamwork education programs need to explore participant learning needs and their prior experiences of working in teams before implementing teamwork education programs.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation creates a beneficial effect to the participants of teamwork education programs and to the quality of education provided by facilitators.
Recommendation four: Facilitators of teamwork education programs should provide learning opportunities that are practical, authentic to participants and foster constructive debriefing and reflection.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation is applicable to all health professionals and circumstances in which teamwork education occurs, is associated with positive experiences and has a beneficial effect on participants.
Recommendation five: High fidelity simulation should be considered in acute hospitals for the training of teamwork skills in addition to clinical skills. Scenarios provide realistic opportunities for participants to practice communication strategies that enhance teamwork.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation is applicable to all health professionals and circumstances in which teamwork education occurs and has a beneficial effect on participants of education programs.
Recommendation six: Team managers should harness the new confidence and motivation of staff around teamwork skills following participation in teamwork education programs and ensure that there are opportunities in the workplace to apply new skills and knowledge into daily practice.JBI Recommendation: Grade A. This recommendation is applicable to all health professionals and circumstances in which teamwork education occurs, is adaptable to a variety of circumstances and has a beneficial effect on health professional's daily practice of teamwork skills.
Implications for research: In order to strengthen the evidence base about teamwork education in acute hospital settings there needs to be quantitative and qualitative research into:How organizations that have successfully embedded a culture of collaboration and safety in health teams have planned, implemented and evaluated teamwork education programs in acute hospital settings?What are the characteristics of teams that have led to successful participation in teamwork education and positive outcomes for team performance?What are the experiences, training and support provided to education facilitators who successfully implement teamwork education programs in acute hospitals?