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J Med Libr Assoc. 2013 Apr;101(2):128-37. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.101.2.008.

Knowledge flow and exchange in interdisciplinary primary health care teams (PHCTs): an exploratory study.

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Faculties of Health Sciences and Information and Media Studies, Western University, London ON, N6A 5B9, Canada. ssibbald@



Improving the process of evidence-based practice in primary health care requires an understanding of information exchange among colleagues. This study explored how clinically oriented research knowledge flows through multidisciplinary primary health care teams (PHCTs) and influences clinical decisions.


This was an exploratory mixed-methods study with members of six PHCTs in Ontario, Canada. Quantitative data were collected using a questionnaire and analyzed with social network analysis (SNA) using UCINet. Qualitative data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analyzed with content analysis procedures using NVivo8.


It was found that obtaining research knowledge was perceived to be a shared responsibility among team members, whereas its application in patient care was seen as the responsibility of the team leader, usually the senior physician. PHCT members acknowledged the need for resources for information access, synthesis, interpretation, or management.


Information sharing in interdisciplinary teams is a complex and multifaceted process. Specific interventions need to be improved such as formalizing modes of communication, better organizing knowledge-sharing activities, and improving the active use of allied health professionals. Despite movement toward team-based models, senior physicians are often gatekeepers of uptake of new evidence and changes in practice.

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