A nursing perspective of interprofessional work in critical care: Findings from a secondary analysis

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This article presents a secondary analysis of nurse interviews from a 2-year comparative ethnographic study exploring cultures of collaboration across intensive care units (ICU). Critically ill patients rely on their interprofessional health care team to communicate and problem-solve quickly to give patients the best outcome available. Critical care nurses function at the hub of patient care giving them a distinct perspective of how interprofessional interactions impact collaborative practice.

Materials and methods:

Secondary analysis of a subset of primary qualitative data is appropriate when analysis extends rather than exceeds the primary study aim. Primary ethnographic data included 178 semistructured interviews of ICU professionals from 8 medical-surgical ICUs in North America; purposeful maximum variation sampling was used to represent each profession accurately. Fifteen anonymized ICU nurse interview transcripts were coded iteratively to identify emerging themes impacting interprofessional collaborative practice.


Findings suggest that quality of interprofessional collaboration is a product of a multitude of factors occurring at multiple levels within the organization. Managerial and organizational factors related to ICU nurse training and staffing may impede development of nurses' interprofessional skills.


Deliberative development of ICU nurses' interprofessional skills is essential if nursing is to move from primary coordinator to active collaborator in patient management.

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