Interdisciplinary Health Care Teamwork in the Clinic Backstage

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Taylor & Francis


A long-term ethnography of an interdisciplinary geriatric oncology team at a regional cancer center revealed the existence and importance of backstage communication that occurred outside of team meetings to the enactment of teamwork. Seven inductively derived categories describe the communication involved in backstage teamwork in the clinic: informal impression and information sharing; checking clinic progress; relationship building; space management; training students; handling interruptions; and formal reporting. The centrality of backstage communication to caring for patients is explored, and a view of embedded teamwork is proposed, extending upon the bona fide group construct. The study provides a valuable complement to controlled studies of group decision-making through its focus on dynamic communication outside of meetings among dyads and triads of team members in a web-like organization and extends bona fide group theory