Book Review: Interprofessional Teamwork in Health and Social Care: Key Tensions and Future Possibilities.

By | 10th February 2017

Interprofessional Teamwork in Health and Social Care: Key Tensions and Future Possibilities. In, The Power of Distributed Perspectives (2016)
Günter Abel & Martina Plümacher (Editors)Walter De Gruyter Inc, 2016, 364 pages, hardcover, $140 USD, ISBN-10: 3110482649 ISBN-13: 978-3110482645
This recent volume, edited by Günter Abel and Martina Plümacher, compiles sixteen articles (four of which are written in German) that explore the dynamics of change within institutions. Topics largely centre on the interplay between individual and institutional perspectives, challenges with communication and cooperation between people and institutions, and creative solutions for targeting such challenges. The volume is organized into five sections: structures, interplays, organization, dynamics, and conflicts.

   A chapter of interest to readers, written by Scott Reeves and Ruth Harris, is placed within the organization section. Here, the authors present a review of the literature on teamwork between various health and social professions and link these empirical findings to theory. Noting the global rise in interdisciplinary approaches to patient care, the authors attempt to clarify the complex dynamics of interprofessional teamwork and offer suggestions for practice. As they account for both social and contextual dynamics, as well as build upon previous theories with their own contributions, this chapter serves its purpose well.
   Beginning with an explanation of foundational principles underlying the interprofessional teamwork literature, Reeves and Harris highlight the key aims of the research. These include the importance of diverse skills and knowledge, sharing information to promote organized care, continuity of care, communication, collaborative resource planning, and effective coordination of service provision. The authors summarize the literature’s suggestions for achieving these aims and then link them to relevant theories, including those devised by the authors themselves as well as by other contributors.
   Next, the authors discuss recent developments in the practice and study of interprofessional teamwork. They thematically organize this section in terms of quality and safety, patient centred care, chronic care, rising costs, education and training, and media coverage. They follow this discussion by noting the challenges to this approach, touching on issues at both the patient and systems level. After offering potential solutions to meet those challenges, the authors culminate their review with an empirical case example that draws from previous studies. In doing so, they help the reader to translate findings and theory into practical application.
   This chapter is comprehensive yet succinct. Cited sources are both older and newer, ensuring a balanced review of seminal ideas with recent developments, and the inclusion grey literature adds to the array of information. At the same time, the authors do not overwhelm the reader with too much information, and the chapter’s breadth and depth is appropriate for an edited collection. In the end, Reeves and Harris provide an organized review of original research, describe these findings within a theoretical framework, and then apply their discussion to a “real-world” context. The reader is left with a clear summary of the key issues, dynamics, and developments of interprofessional teamwork. Those working in this type of setting, whether in research, management, or on the frontline, will find this chapter to be a useful resource and guide to further exploration.
   Overall, an interesting collection of chapters which provide a rich exploration of communication, cooperation and change issues from the perspectives of both individuals and institutions.
  Reviewed by
  Rosita Sabzevari