The aim of this paper is to highlight some of the findings of a research study concerned with the perception of general practitioner trainees, health visitor, district nurse and social work students towards the primary health care team. Areas of role understanding; role restriction/role euphoria and high referral of problems to others are illustrated. The results suggest a need for role learning experiences during training which are subsequently extended and reinforced by interdisciplinary participation in simulated patient management experiences.

The idea of team care in the United Kingdom was first mooted as early as 1920 when a committee under the chairmanship of Dawson proposed that doctors should work in teams from health centres. This suggestion was destined to lie dormant until the 1960s, when due to a more favourable poltical, social and economic chimate, the idea was rejuvenated. District nurses and health visitors became associated with doctors in general practice and such terms as ‘attached’, ‘aligned’, ‘linked’ and ‘in liaison with’ were in vogue (C.E.T.H.V. 1977). However, the bringing together of personnel was only the first small step in what should have been a dynamic drive to progress from an individualistic effort to that of a concerted team approach. In recent years however, there has been increasing controversy about the effectiveness of the team as a unit.