Effectiveness of Team Approach in Health Care: Some Research Evidence

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Tesfamicael Ghebrehiwet


Team approach in health care settings is widely recognized as an important factor in providing quality patient care. This approach is supported by a growing  research evidence that  demonstrates team functioning is associated with better patient outcomes, cost savings, reduced hospitalisation , improved service provision, and enhanced patient and staff satisfaction.  Team approach also helps health professionals with diverse skills to view clients and their families as whole persons, and is compatible with person-centered medicine.  The research evidence suggests that these benefits occur because well-functioning teams make good decisions, cope effectively with complex tasks, and are able to coordinate their interventions and expertise. However, despite the growing awareness of potential benefits, many heath care organizations lack effective teamwork, with negative consequences on patient outcomes. The barriers to team approach have been attributed to several factors including professional hierarchy, frequent changes in caregivers due to shift-work and patient transfers that make coordination and teamwork complicated.The paper  provides a highlight of research on team approach to health care using indicators of patient outcomes; cost savings and patient and provider satisfactions. 

Article Details

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Author Biography

Tesfamicael Ghebrehiwet, International Council of Nurses (ICN)

Tesfamicael (Tesfa) Ghebrehiwet, PhD, RN, is Consultant, Nursing and Health Policy, International Council of Nurses (ICN). He joined ICN in 1994. At ICN he is responsible for a number of programme areas including primary health care, HIV/AIDS, research and evidence-based practice, nursing ethics, and mental health. He is also Director of the ICN/MSD Mobile Library Project that delivers books to nurses in developing countries.   From 2004-2007 Dr. Ghebrehiwet directed ICN TB/MDR-TB Project and conducted training in six countries. He is the ICN representative to the World Health Organisation. Dr. Ghebrehiwet started his professional experience in Eritrea and Ethiopia where he held various positions including a staff nurse, nursing supervisor and nurse educator where he led a national training programme for nurses and primary health care workers. Prior to joining ICN, Dr. Ghebrehiwet served as Senior Lecturer and Head, Community Health Nursing Programme, College of Health Sciences, Kingdom of Bahrain. In this capacity he provided leadership in establishing a post-basic community health nursing programme and led the Programme for several years. In addition he thought in the associate degree, post-basic and bachelor of nursing programmes of the College of Health Sciences. He is a native of Eritrea and holds a citizenship of Canada.  Dr. Ghebrehiwet received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Indiana University (USA); Master of Public Health (MPH), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (UK); and PhD in public health from the University of Southampton (UK). He is the recipient of scholarships and awards including a USAID scholarship to Indiana University and an Award from the Vice-Chancellors and Deans of the UK. He was awarded the top prize for academic excellence during his MPH studies. Dr. Ghebrehiwet has served on a number of WHO consultations including Situational Analysis of the Advanced Nursing Practice Role in Primary Health Care in Oman, Global Outbreak Alert and Response, Patient Safety and HIV/AIDS. He has contributed widely to international journals including the Lancet, International Nursing Review, the World Health Bulletin, Building Quality in Health Care and Nursing Ethics. Dr. Ghebrehiwet is featured in the 2009 Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care.


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