Abstract

Teams are an essential aspect of health care today, especially in rehabilitation or chronic illness where the course of care is frequently long, complex, and unpredictable. The coordinative function of teams and their interdisciplinary aspects are thought to improve patient care because team members bring their unique professional skills together to address patient problems. This coordination is enacted through the team meeting, which typically results in an integrated care plan. This professional image of team meetings is explicit and addresses the description and provision of care as objective and rational activities. In contrast, the constructed and ritualistic images of health care team meetings are implicit and concern the less objective and rational aspects of planning care. The constructed image pertains to the definitional activity of team members as they try to understand patient troubles and achieve consensus. This process involves the individual clinical reasoning of team members and the collective reasoning of the group. The ritualistic image is that aspect of team meetings in which the team affirms and reaffirms its collective identity. Drawing from field research of geropsychiatric team meetings, this article defines and explicates these images, focusing on the constructed and ritualistic aspects of team meetings and the influence of these images on group function.

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