Family Medicine Publications
Healthcare teams and patient-related terminology: a review of concepts and uses
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
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Background: Discussions concerning health care teams and patient-related terminology remain an ongoing debate. Terms such as interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary, as well as interprofessional are ambiguously defined and frequently used, rightly or wrongly, interchangeably. Also, clarification on the terminology regarding patients is rarely explicitly addressed in the health care team’s literature, potentially resulting in confusion among health professional students, novice researchers, and practitioners. Methods: A structured literature review was conducted. Electronic searches were performed from August 2018 to September 2019 on the following databases: CINHAL, Scopus, Science Direct, PubMed, Nursing and Allied Health and JSTOR. The following terms were used: ‘terminology’, ‘team(s)’, ‘nursing’, ‘health’, ‘medical’, ‘education’, ‘interprofessional’, ‘interdisciplinary’, ‘multidisciplinary’, ‘transdisciplinary’, ‘collaboration’, ‘patient’, ‘client’, ‘customer’, ‘user’ and ‘person’. Results: Small but significant nuances in the use of language and its implications for patient care can be made visible for health professional education and clinical practice. Healthcare is necessarily interdisciplinary and therefore we are obligated, and privileged, to think more critically about the use of terminology to ensure we are supporting high-quality evidence and knowledge application. Conclusion: To avoid confusion and lack of consistency in the peer-review literature, authors should be encouraged to offer brief definitions and the rationale for the use of a particular term or group of term. In addition, a deeper understanding of the values that each patient-related term represents for particular disciplines or health care professions is essential to achieve a more comprehensive conceptual rigour.