Interprofessional collaboration within fluid teams: community nurses' experiences with palliative home care.


Authors: Fien Mertens, Anneleen De Gendt, Myriam Deveugele, Ann Van Hecke, Peter Pype

Journal of clinical nursing (2019)

Aims And Objectives

To explore how community nurses (CNs) experience the collaboration with general practitioners (GPs) and specialist palliative home care team (PHCT) nurses in palliative home care and the perceived factors influencing this collaboration.


The complexity of, and the demand for palliative home care is increasing. Primary palliative care is provided by CNs and GPs, often in collaboration with PHCT nurses. Although these professionals may each individually be part of a fixed team, a new temporary team is often composed for every new palliative patient. These membership changes, referred to as team membership fluidity, challenge professionals to work effectively.

Design And Methods

A qualitative research design, using semi-structured interviews with CNs. Participant selection happened through regional palliative care networks in Belgium. The network's PHCT nurses selected CNs with whom they recently collaborated. Twenty interviews were conducted. A constant comparative analysis approach was used. COREQ guidelines were followed.


Formal interprofessional team meetings were not common practice. The other's approachability and knowing each other positively influenced the collaboration. Time constraints, the GPs' lack of expertise, communication style, hierarchy perception and income dependency negatively influenced the collaboration with GPs and determined PHCT nurses' involvement. The coping strategies of CNs balanced between a behaviour focused to the patient and to the professional relationship. Specialist PHCT nurses were relied upon for their expertise but also to mediate when CNs disagreed with GPs.


Community nurses showed to be highly adaptable within the fluid team. Strikingly, dynamics described in the doctor-nurse game 50 years ago are still present today and affect the interprofessional communication. Interprofessional education interventions can contribute to improved interprofessional collaboration.

Relevance To Clinical Practice

The study findings uncovered critical knowledge gaps in interprofessional collaboration in palliative home care. Insights are relevant for and related to professional wellbeing and workplace learning. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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