Do all health and social care professionals interact equally: a study of interactions in multidisciplinary teams in the United Kingdom


Kay Caldwell, Middlesex University, The Queensway, Enfield; Middlesex EN3 4SF, UK.


Problems around deficits in interprofessional collaboration have been identified since the National Health Service (NHS) was introduced. It is within the context of the current policy focus on improving collaborative working that this study was undertaken. A direct observational study using the Bales’ Interaction Process Analysis tool was carried out in two older persons teams to explore patterns of interaction in the multidisciplinary team meetings. Analysis revealed some key differences in the way in which different professions interacted. Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers (SW) and nurses rarely asked for opinions and for orientation. The consultant (the individual in charge of the medical team) tended to have high rates for asking for orientation, giving opinions and giving orientation. Although some nurses did have high individual rates for the giving of orientation. The data from the research has highlighted that therapists, SWs and nurses are reluctance to voice their opinions in multidisciplinary teams and thus conformity may dominate its culture. It is suggested that therapists, SWs and nurses need to cite their opinions in teams more effectively if they are to be competent and committed patient-centred practitioners.