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Teamwork – a way to improve patient perceptions of the quality of care in an emergency department: an intervention study with follow-up

Åsa Muntlin Athlin, Nasim Farrokhnia, Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz


Rationale, aims and objectives: Targeted interventions are suggested for improving patient perceptions of the emergency care they have received. However, organizational changes are another way of addressing these issues. Structured evaluation of such changes is warranted. The overall aim was to investigate how organizational changes aimed to support multi-professional teamwork in the emergency department (ED) could affect patients’ perceptions of the quality of care.

Method: The introduction of multi-professional teamwork in an emergency department at a Swedish university hospital was evaluated using an intervention study design. Weeks with standard procedure were interchanged with and compared to, intervention weeks over a 4-week period and follow-up after 1.5 years. In total, 203 patients completed the questionnaire “Quality from the Patient’s Perspective (QPP)”.

Results: Of 4 dimensions, 3 (medical-technical, identity-oriented approach and socio-cultural atmosphere) showed increasing improvements from the control phase to follow-up. Seven of 22 items concerning quality of care in the emergency department improved significantly from baseline to intervention and to follow-up. The number of areas in need of improvement was dramatically reduced in the intervention phase compared to the control phase and overall the results were sustained 1.5 years later. Significant differences between the study phases in patient perceptions of waiting time were also noted.

Conclusion: Multi-professional teamwork has previously been related to improved patient safety and lead time efficiency. Findings show that it may also be related to improvements in patients’ perceptions of quality of care in the emergency department. Emphasizing this relationship may enhance the patient-centered care approach of emergency departments.


Communication, complex healthcare environments, decision-making, emergency department, multi-professional teamwork, patient-centered care, patient perceptions, patient satisfaction, person-centered healthcare, quality of care, staff-patient communication

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