The association between interdisciplinary team development and patient length of stay
There are very few studies in the literature that have examined the outcomes of healthcare interdisciplinary teams. Most existing studies have measured attributes of healthcare teams, however, none have implemented and examined outcomes of a team development intervention. This study was conducted to determine whether a development intervention employed with an existing interdisciplinary team would reduce the length of stay for patients in an acute care setting. A quasi-experimental single-subject time series design was conducted with multiple measures of length of stay collected across Baseline, Intervention, and Reversal phases of the study. Bronstein's Model for Interdisciplinary collaboration provided the framework for this study. The components of this model were used to guide a team development intervention comprised of four consecutive weeks of classroom development sessions and four consecutive weeks of booster messaging. Length of stay (LOS) data was collected for each of the study phases to examine preintervention LOS and compare this data to LOS during the intervention and reversal phases. The results of this study revealed that the interdisciplinary team development intervention had no positive impact on the length of stay data. Baseline mean LOS across 12 baseline months was 4.83 days (SD =.65) with monthly means ranging from 4.1 to 6.3 days. The mean LOS was 5.1 and 4.6 days respectively for intervention months of May and June and 6.0, 6.5, 5.7, and 5.4 days for the reversal months of July through October. All means in the intervention and reversal phases were higher than comparable months in the baseline phase. The pattern of the graphed trend was closely aligned with the seasonal variations seen during the baseline months.
While these results showed that the team development intervention provided for this interdisciplinary team had no positive effect on the LOS, there are a number of factors which may have influenced the results and may provide insights useful for future research. Length of stay may not be the outcome variable that reflects team effectiveness for this population. It is possible that the interdisciplinary team in this study had well developed collaborative processes prior to the intervention. Finally, physicians were not included in the team development intervention yet may be the discipline whose participation may have affected length of stay.