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J Nurs Manag. 2001 Jan;9(1):3-11.

Medical dominance in multidisciplinary teamwork: a case study of discharge decision-making in a geriatric assessment unit.

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Queen Margaret University College, 36 Clerwood Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.



To investigate the degree of medical dominance in multidisciplinary teams in a geriatric assessment unit by focusing on decision-making with regard to patient discharge.


The persistence of medical dominance in multidisciplinary teamwork has been widely assumed but insufficiently researched, particularly through close observation of team practice. The present study seeks to rectify this by examining the extent of medical dominance in two multidisciplinary teams working in a hospital-based geriatric assessment unit.


Team practice was analysed by observing and audiotaping five case review meetings in each team and by semi-structured interviews with team members.


In terms of level of contribution, the issues raised at meetings, and the team responses to discharge initiation, a lower than expected level of medical dominance was identified. This lower than expected level is related to consultants' views on the nature of rehabilitation, leading to a consensus amongst team members as to the purpose of geriatric assessment, and to a high level of team stability.


Reducing the level of medical dominance encourages the contributions of all team members and thus enhances patient care. More training in team skills would also be beneficial, including interprofessional training.

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