Terminology used to describe health care teams: an integrative review of the literature
Jennifer Chamberlain-Salaun, Jane Mills, Kim Usher
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Purpose: Health systems around the world are struggling to meet the needs of aging populations and increasing numbers of clients with complex health conditions. Faced with multiple health system challenges, governments are advocating for team-based approaches to health care. Key descriptors used to describe health care teams include “interprofessional,” “multiprofessional,” “interdisciplinary,” and “multidisciplinary.” Until now there has been no review of the use of terminology relating to health care teams. The purpose of this integrative review is to provide a descriptive analysis of terminology used to describe health care teams.
Methods: An integrative review of the literature was conducted because it allows for the inclusion of literature related to studies using diverse methodologies. The authors searched the literature using the terms interprofessional, multiprofessional, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary combined with “health teams” and “health care teams.” Refining strategies included a requirement that journal articles define the term used to describe health care teams and include a list of health care team members. The literature selection process resulted in the inclusion of 17 journal articles in this review.
Results: Multidisciplinary is more frequently used than other terminology to describe health care teams. The findings in this review relate to frequency of terminology usage, justifications for use of specific terminology, commonalities and patterns related to country of origin of research studies and health care areas, ways in which terminology is used, structure of team membership, and perspectives of definitions used.
Conclusion: Stakeholders across the health care continuum share responsibility for developing and consistently using terminology that is both common and meaningful. Notwithstanding some congruence in terminology usage, this review highlights inconsistencies in the literature and suggests that broad debate among policy makers, clinicians, educators, researchers, and consumers is still required to reach useful consensus.
Keywords: descriptors, interprofessional, multiprofessional, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary
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