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Int J Nurs Stud. 2009 Sep;46(9):1256-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.01.005. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

The relevance of team characteristics and team directed strategies in the implementation of nursing innovations: a literature review.

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Implementation of innovations is a complex and intensive procedure in which different strategies can be successful. In nursing, strategies often focus on intrinsic motivation, competencies and attitudes of individual nurses while ignoring the social context. Since nurses often work in teams, identifying relevant team characteristics and successful team directed strategies may contribute to the implementation of innovations. The literature was searched for evidence.


A literature review was performed including key words related to nursing teams, innovations, team characteristics and team-directed strategies. On-line databases were searched (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ERIC database and Cochrane reviews CENTRAL). The journal Quality and Safety in Healthcare (QSHC) was hand searched. Methodological quality was assessed.


Initially, 323 titles were found. Screening of titles and abstracts and full texts resulted in nine articles meeting the inclusion criteria. The methodological quality of the studies was generally low. The innovations included different types of practices. Fifteen different team characteristics were labeled according to six features of successful teams. Twenty-one different team-directed strategies were identified and inductively categorized.


Few studies and little evidence were found for the relevance of team characteristics and team directed strategies in the implementation of nursing innovations. Feedback was most frequently used as a strategy. Leadership could be labeled as a team characteristic as well as a team directed strategy. Further research should be of good methodological quality and focusing on patient outcomes and time and costs invested in strategy delivery. This increases scientific knowledge on nursing implementation strategies focusing on leadership.

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