Assessing Collaboration and Teamwork on Inpatient Oncology Units

1Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
2Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL

Meeting: Hospital Medicine 2014, March 24-27, Las Vegas, Nev.

Abstract number: 13


Teamwork is essential to providing safe and effective care. However, research shows that physicians and nurses in the hospital do not communicate consistently about their patients. Discrepant views on quality of collaboration among physicians and nurses have been researched in operating rooms (ORs), intensive care units (ICUs), and general medicine units. Typically physicians perceive the quality of communication and collaboration as good, while nurses perceive the quality as relatively poor. However, little is known about teamwork perceptions on inpatient oncology units.


We administered a survey via email to all 125 nurses, 27 residents, 16 hospitalists, and 25 oncology physicians (fellows and attendings) staffing oncology services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital during the months December 2012 and January 2013. Respondents rated teamwork using a validated instrument (Safety Attitudes Questionnaire; scale 0‐100) and rated the quality of collaboration they had experienced with other professionals using a 5 point ordinal response scale (1=very low quality; 5=very high quality). Respondents also rated potential barriers to collaboration using a 4 point ordinal response scale (1=not at all a barrier; 4=major barrier). We compared ratings by professionals using ANOVA.


Overall, 125 of 193 eligible participants (65%) completed the survey. Nurses rated teamwork lower than other professionals (See Table 1). Ratings of collaboration with nurses were similarly high across all types of professionals. Ratings of collaboration with physicians varied significantly by type of professional (See Table 2). Similarly, perceived barriers to collaboration differed by type of professional. While hospitalists felt the biggest barriers were not having a long term relationship with other providers and difficulty reaching other providers, nurses felt the biggest barrier was negative attitudes regarding the importance of communication on the part of some providers.


Professionals on inpatient oncology units have discrepant perceptions of collaboration and teamwork. While physicians rate collaboration with nurses highly, nurses perceive collaboration with physicians as suboptimal. These results mirror similar studies of teamwork on general medicine units, intensive care units, and operating rooms, where residual hierarchy predetermines perceptions of teamwork.

To cite this abstract:

Weaver C, Brandman J, Callaghan M, O’Leary K. Assessing Collaboration and Teamwork on Inpatient Oncology Units. Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2014, March 24-27, Las Vegas, Nev. Abstract 13. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2014; 9 (suppl 2). Accessed March 28, 2020.

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