What makes team communication effective: a qualitative analysis of interprofessional primary care team members' perspectives

J Interprof Care. Nov-Dec 2019;33(6):836-838. doi: 10.1080/13561820.2019.1577809. Epub 2019 Feb 6.


Although numerous scholars have emphasized the need for effective communication between members of interprofessional teams, few studies provide a clear understanding of what constitutes effective team communication in primary care settings, specifically where patient-centered medical home (PCMH) teams have been implemented. This paper describes the elements of effective communication as perceived by members of interprofessional PCMH primary care teams, and identifies elements of effective communication that have persisted over time. Using transcribed text from 75 semi-structured interviews, we applied the grounded theory method of constant comparison to categorize emergent themes relating to elements of team communication. Interprofessional PCMH team members described the elements of effective communication as: 1) shared knowledge, 2) situation/goal awareness, 3) problem-solving, 4) mutual respect; and communication that is 5) transparent, 6) timely, 7) frequent, 8) consistent, and 9) parsimonious. Parsimony is an emergent theme that may be especially relevant for interprofessional PCMH teams challenged with structured clinic schedules. Future work could focus on understanding how to teach and sustain effective parsimonious communication. Comprehensive quality improvement efforts incorporating a variety of strategies, including team communication training, information and communication technologies, and standardized communication tools may facilitate communication of pertinent patient information in a brief and concise manner.

Keywords: Qualitative method; interprofessional team communication; patient-centred practice; team-based practice.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs