Interprofessional collaboration among care professionals in obstetrical care: are perceptions aligned?

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Abstract

Background

In an obstetrical team, obstetricians, midwives and nurses work together in a dynamic and complex care setting. Different professional cultures can be a barrier for effective interprofessional collaboration. Although the different professional cultures in obstetrical care are well known, little is understood about discrepancies in mutual perceptions of collaboration. Similar perceptions of collaboration are important to ensure patient safety. We aimed to understand how different care professionals in an obstetrical team assess interprofessional collaboration in order to gain insight into the extent to which their perceptions are aligned.

Methods

This cross-sectional study was performed in the north-western region of the Netherlands. Care professionals from five hospitals and surrounding primary-care midwifery practices were surveyed. The respondents consisted of four groups of care professionals: obstetricians (n=74), hospital-based midwives known as clinical midwives (n=42), nurses (n=154) and primary-care midwives (n=109). The overall response rate was 80.8%. We used the Interprofessional Collaboration Measurement Scale (IPCMS) to assess perceived interprofessional collaboration. The IPCMS distinguishes three subscales: communication, accommodation and isolation. Data were analysed using non-parametrical tests.

Results

Overall, ratings of interprofessional collaboration were good. Obstetricians rated their collaboration with clinical midwives, nurses and primary-care midwives more positively than these three groups rated the collaboration with obstetricians. Discrepancies in mutual perceptions were most apparent in the isolation subscale, which is about sharing opinions, discussing new practices and respecting each other.

Conclusion

We found relevant discrepancies in mutual perceptions of collaboration in obstetrical care in the Netherlands. Obstetrical care is currently being reorganised to enable more integrated care, which will have consequences for interprofessional collaboration. The findings of this study indicate opportunities for improvement especially in terms of perceived isolation.

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