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J Interprof Care. 2001 May;15(2):141-51.

Decision-making in teams: issues arising from two UK evaluations.

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  • 1University of Northumbria at Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.


Interagency and interprofessional working has often been operationalised through the development of integrated, multiprofessional teams in the UK. However, there is considerable ambivalence reported about the success of such teams. This paper reports on two evaluations of different types of inter-agency/intra-agency, interdisciplinary/unidisciplinary teams. One study used a soft systems methodology to evaluate a health and social care team for people with enduring mental health needs and the other used a pluralistic framework to examine integrated nursing teams in primary care. In both studies, the team-working arrangements influenced the decisions made by the team members such that client care became increasingly responsive and proactive. These changes were made possible by two processes. First, information transaction was augmented and was instrumental in supporting effective client-related decision-making. Second, there was enhanced support for decision-making, especially in respect of problem solving. However, the increased autonomy of the team members had the potential to marginalise those outside the team from decision-making. It is suggested that working within a team can impact on the decisions made by team members, which exceeds a collection of individual decisions. The strengths of complex multiprofessional teams for service users may be realised if the processes of decision-making are respected.

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