"We decide, you carry it out": a social network analysis of multidisciplinary long-term care teams

Soc Sci Med. 1997 Nov;45(9):1411-21. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(97)00066-x.


The purpose of this study was to describe the structure of multidisciplinary long-term care teams by identifying the pattern of relationships that develop amongst staff as they go about their work. Using a social network analysis approach, team members were classified as occupying the same structural position based on their patterns of relationships with other team members. The analysis was based on the results of a self-administered survey of 93 health care workers on three teams in the same multilevel geriatric care facility in Metropolitan Toronto. A common structure of the teams was identified consisting of two sub-teams: a multiprofessional sub-team and a nursing sub-team, each of which has a different structure indicating differential involvement in different types of teamwork. The multiprofessional sub-team has an "organic" structure and is mainly involved in teamwork that involves decision-making and problem-solving, whereas the nursing sub-team has a "mechanistic" structure and is mainly involved in task oriented work. The findings of this analysis indicate that while teamwork may be increasing the participation in decision-making by health professionals other than medicine, rather than flattening the hierarchical structure throughout the health care division of labour, its effects are limited to a group of higher status professionals. The clearly defined hierarchy remains for the lower status subdisciplines, and "I decide, you carry it out" has simply become "We decide, you carry it out".

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Hierarchy, Social*
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes
  • Ontario
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Social Support*