All professionals are equal but some professionals are more equal than others? Dominance, status and efficiency in Swedish interprofessional teams

Authors


Ingela Thylefors, Department of Psychology, Göteborg University, Box 500, S405 00 Göteborg, Sweden.
E-mail: ingela.thylefors@psy.gu.se

Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 505–512

All professionals are equal but some professionals are more equal than others? Dominance, status and efficiency in Swedish interprofessional teams

This study explored status differences in interprofessional teams and their link with efficiency. In total, 62 teams (423 individuals) from occupational health-care, psychiatry, rehabilitation and school health-care responded to a questionnaire. Fifty-four of those teams (360 individuals) also participated in an observation session simulating problem-solving team meetings. Data were reduced to a number of indexes: self-assessed/perceived equality, functional influence and efficiency; and observed verbal dominance/activity and problem-solving capacity. Perceived status differences within the teams appeared moderate, irrespective of professional belonging. With respect to verbal dominance during meetings, however, the findings revealed a hierarchy with psychologists, physicians and social workers at the top together with special education teachers. No relationship was found between self-assessed efficiency and actual problem-solving nor between observed verbal activity and problem-solving. The findings suggest that different problems may demand different prerequisites to be solved effectively: successful solving of simple convergent problems correlated negatively with equality, whereas functional influence was a predictor of success with respect to divergent, complex problem-solving. The findings raise questions about leadership and procedures during team meetings.

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