Collaborative practice: A critical theory perspective



The purpose of this critical theory study was to investigate the observed failure of nurses and physicians to collaborate, and the underlying meaning behind this failure. Using a phenomenological and participatory approach, 18 family nurse practitioners and physicians in joint practice were interviewed separately and together about their practice relationships. Transcribed interviews and data summaries were returned to the participants for review and validation. Emergent themes were analyzed using the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas. Results demonstrated that distorted communication and nonmeaningful interactions were promoted by both nurses and physicians. Elements identified as contributing to more successful collaborative practices included a willingness to move beyond basic information exchange in nurse/physician interactions, the willingness and ability to challenge distortions and assumptions in the relationship, and a belief system based on critical self-reflection.