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An Evaluation of Interdisciplinary Team Training in Hospice Care

Baldwin, Paula K. MA; Wittenberg-Lyles, Elaine PhD; Oliver, Debra Parker MSW, PhD; Demiris, George PhD

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: May-June 2011 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 172-182
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0b013e31820b5c16

Medicare requires all hospice agencies to conduct regular interdisciplinary team meetings to facilitate collaboration within the team and to coordinate holistic plans of patient care. This study takes a preliminary look at hospice agencies' preparation of interdisciplinary team members for collaboration within team meetings and aims to explain hospices' strategies for training and assessing the collaborative strength of interdisciplinary team meetings. Using a purposive sampling strategy of the 721 hospices listed as members of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a semistructured phone survey was administered to 145 hospice agencies over the phone. Survey items measured four aspects of team processes: nature and structure of the current team, organizational training procedures currently in place, perceived needs assessment for team training, and current evaluation practices. Current team training practices show that 61% receive training, with 33% reporting that training includes team building. More than half of the participants reported that their team needs ongoing training in case presentation, conflict resolution/communication/relationships, patient care/pain management, and teamwork. Although training is occurring, there are no structures in place to ensure that interdisciplinary team members receive adequate team communication training. Future work is needed to determine the best timing for training as well as training curriculum.

Paula K. Baldwin, MA, Doctoral Student, Department of Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of North Texas, Denton.

Debra Parker Oliver, MSW, PhD, Associate Professor, Curtis W. and Ann H. Long Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia.

George Demiris, PhD, Associate Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems School of Nursing & Biomedical and Health Informatics, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle

Address correspondence to Paula K. Baldwin, MA, Department of Communication, George Mason University, 4400 University Ave, Fairfax, VA 22030. (

© 2011 The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association