Defining team membership in primary care: Qualitative analysis

IISE Trans Healthc Syst Eng. 2020;10(4):251-260. doi: 10.1080/24725579.2020.1800869. Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Primary healthcare is recognized as a team-based activity. Traditionally, a primary care team is considered to be a group of individuals that work together to satisfy patients' needs for primary care services. Past studies show wide variation in the scope and structure of teams across primary care organizations, indicating ambiguity in the definition of primary care teams. In addition, it remains unclear why certain healthcare professionals are included/excluded from another professional's "team". This study explored the question: "How do healthcare professionals in primary care clinics define who is on their team?" Qualitative content analysis was performed on interview data from clinicians and staff in eight primary care clinics regarding team definitions. All participants acknowledged the importance of working in a team, yet they had very different perspectives on how their teams were defined. Multiple themes emerged including borrowing the expertise of another professional, sharing of patient panel, and policy requirements. This study can inform healthcare professionals and administrators, as well as health IT designers, consultants, architects and researchers interested in primary care teams and how they function in a clinic environment.

Keywords: content analysis; primary care; team.