An interprofessional team approach to tracheostomy care: A mixed-method investigation into the mechanisms explaining tracheostomy team effectiveness

Rebecca Mitchell, Vicki Parker, Michelle Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background - In an effort to reduce tracheostomy-related complications, many acute care facilities have implemented specialist tracheostomy teams. Some studies, however, generate only mixed support for the connection between tracheostomy teams and patient outcomes. This suggests that the effect of collaborative teamwork in tracheostomy care is still not well understood.
Objective - The aim of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms through which an interprofessional team approach can improve the management of patients with a tracheostomy.
Design - The achievement of this research objective requires the collection of rich empirical data, which indicates the use of a qualitative methodology. A case study approach provided an opportunity to collect a wealth of data on tracheostomy team activities and dynamics.
Setting and participants - Data were collected on an interprofessional tracheostomy team in a large tertiary referral hospital in Australia. The team was composed of clinical nurse consultants, a physiotherapist, a speech pathologist, a dietician, a social worker and medical officers.
Methods - Data were collected through a focus group and one-to-one, semi-structured in-depth interviews, and thematic analysis was used to analyse experiences of tracheostomy team members.
Results - Qualitative analysis resulted in two main themes: interprofessional protocol development and implementation; and interprofessional decision-making.
Conclusions - Our findings suggest that tracheostomy teams enhance consistency of care through the development and implementation of interprofessional protocol. In addition, such team allow more efficient and effective communication and decision-making consequent to the collocation of diverse professionals. These findings provide new insight into the role of tracheostomy teams in successfully implementing complex protocol and the explanatory mechanisms through which interprofessional teams may generate positive outcomes for tracheostomy patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-542
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Tracheostomy
  • Interprofessional relations
  • Interdisciplinary health team


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