Examining Interprofessional Team Decision Making through a Distributed Cognition Lens

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This study explores interprofessional healthcare team interactions and decision making from a distributed cognition perspective. The practice of patient care continues to increase in complexity requiring healthcare teams to assume roles that were traditionally the realm of the individual practitioner. While interprofessional teams are increasingly necessary, communication and decision making within healthcare teams have been identified as common sources of medical errors and these have been difficult to address despite considerable efforts. Research regarding interprofessional team performance has focused on individual team member abilities, as well as human interactions in achieving patient care outcomes. These approaches do not fully address the inherent complexities involved in team-based patient care. This qualitative research used a case study methodology to explore the socio-material aspects of interprofessional healthcare team communication and decision making through direct observation and video review of team-based acute care simulation, along with post-simulation participant interviews. A distributed cognition theoretical framework was used to study the interactions between team members, as well as those involving mediating artifacts, and relate these to expected performance measures to better understand how team communication, decision making and collaborative activities affect patient outcomes. This research identified the impact that the physical environment and mediating artifacts can have on the identification, communication, and interpretation of patient related information and ultimately on patient care decisions within interprofessional healthcare teams. This study reported contributions to team cognition, awareness, and decision making that have not previously been described in acute care interprofessional team assessment, and that effectively contributed to patient care outcomes.
Distributed cognition, Simulation, Distributed situation awareness, Interprofessional team, interprofessional education, Sociomaterialty theory, Decision making, Mediating artifacts, Patient safety, Interprofessional team communication, Medical errors
Green, G. (2020). Examining interprofessional team decision making through a distributed cognition lens (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.