Decoding healthcare teamwork: a typology of hospital teams

Natalie Sanford, Mary Lavelle, Ola Markiewicz, Gabriel Reedy, Dame Anne Marie Rafferty, Lord Ara Darzi, Janet E Anderson

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The effectiveness of healthcare depends on successful teamwork. Current understanding of teamwork in healthcare is limited due to the complexity of the context, variety of team structures, and unique demands of healthcare work. This qualitative study aimed to identify different types of healthcare teams based on their structure, membership, and function. The study used an ethnographic approach to observe five teams in an English hospital. Data were analyzed using a combined inductive-deductive approach based on the Temporal Observational Analysis of Teamwork framework. A typology was developed, consisting of five team types: structural, hybrid, satellite, responsive, and coordinating. Teams were challenged to varying degrees with staffing, membership instability, equipment shortages, and other elements of the healthcare environment. Teams varied in their ability to respond to these challenges depending on their characteristics, such as their teamworking style, location, and membership. The typology developed in this study can help healthcare organizations to better understand and design effective teams for different healthcare contexts. It can also guide future research on healthcare teams and provide a framework for comparing teams across settings. To improve teamwork, healthcare organizations should consider the unique needs of different team types and design effective training programs accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Early online date26 Apr 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 26 Apr 2024


  • team design
  • Adaptive teams
  • team typology
  • healthcare teamwork
  • interprofessional teamwork


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