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Developing a team performance framework for the intensive care unit*

Reader, Tom W. PhD; Flin, Rhona PhD; Mearns, Kathryn PhD; Cuthbertson, Brian H. MD, FRCA

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31819f0451
Review Articles

Objective: There is a growing literature on the relationship between teamwork and patient outcomes in intensive care, providing new insights into the skills required for effective team performance. The purpose of this review is to consolidate the most robust findings from this research into an intensive care unit (ICU) team performance framework.

Data Sources: Studies investigating teamwork within the ICU using PubMed, Science Direct, and Web of Knowledge databases.

Study Selection: Studies investigating the relationship between aspects of teamwork and ICU outcomes, or studies testing factors that are found to influence team working in the ICU.

Data Extraction: Teamwork behaviors associated with patient or staff-related outcomes in the ICU were identified.

Data Synthesis: Teamwork behaviors were grouped according to the team process categories of “team communication,” “team leadership,” “team coordination,” and “team decision making.” A prototype framework explaining the team performance in the ICU was developed using these categories. The purpose of the framework is to consolidate the existing ICU teamwork literature and to guide the development and testing of interventions for improving teamwork.

Conclusions: Effective teamwork is shown as crucial for providing optimal patient care in the ICU. In particular, team leadership seems vital for guiding the way in which ICU team members interact and coordinate with others.

From the School of Psychology (TWR, RF, KM), University of Aberdeen, Kings College, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK; Health Services Research Unit (BHC), University of Aberdeen and Intensive Care Unit, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

Supported by the College of Life Sciences and Medicine (University of Aberdeen) and the Scottish Funding Council.

The authors have not disclosed any potential conflicts of interest.

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© 2009 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins