Discursive patterns in multiprofessional healthcare teams


  • Susanne Kvarnström MSc RN,

  • Elisabet Cedersund PhD

Susanne Kvarnström,
County Council Office,
R&D Department,
St Larsgatan 49B,
Linköping SE-581 91,
E-mail: susanne.kvarnstrom@lio.se


Aim.  The aim of this paper is to report a study exploring how members of multiprofessional healthcare teams talk about their team. Specifically, the team members’ talk was analysed to explore the discursive patterns that emerged and their functions.

Background.  Over recent decades there has been an increasing demand in Western countries to change care organizations and to coordinate resources and professional competencies to meet the needs of patients/service users better. Because society promotes this kind of work, it may be valuable to explore the self-presentations of a multiprofessional healthcare team.

Methods.  A discourse analysis was carried out on existing empirical data from focus group interviews with a member-identified category sample comprising 32 healthcare professionals in six authentic multiprofessional teams in south-east Sweden. The analysis focused on the participants’ discursive constructions of multiprofessional teamwork, on the way they talked about their group, and, in particular, on their use of the pronouns we, they and I.

Findings.  The constructions of ‘we’ by multiprofessional healthcare teams showed discursive patterns that are here referred to as knowledge synergy and trusting support, which included factors such as cross-learning and personal chemistry. The pronoun we was also used as a flexible resource to manage expertise, power and leadership within the teams, and it might also function to ease the pressure for consensus.

Conclusion.  These discursive patterns provided powerful rhetorical resources for team members, both to affirm their choice of membership and to claim superiority in relations with the surrounding community (the others) by linking to a societal discourse that promotes collaboration.