Primary health care teams and the patient perspective: a social network analysis

Lynn H. M. Cheong, Carol L. Armour, Sinthia Z. Bosnic-Anticevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multidisciplinary care (MDC) has been proposed as a potential strategy to address the rising challenges of modern health issues. However, it remains unclear as to how patients' health connections may impact on multidisciplinary processes and outcomes.

Objectives: This research aims to gain a deeper understanding of patients' potential role in MDC: i) describe patients' health networks, ii) compare different care groups, iii) gain an understanding of the nature and extent of their interactions, and iv) identify the role of pharmacists within patient networks.

Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with asthma patients from Sydney, Australia. Participants were recruited from a range of standard asthma health care access points (community group) and a specialized multidisciplinary asthma clinic (clinic group). Quantitative social network analysis provided structural insight into asthma networks while qualitative social network analysis assisted in interpretation of network data.

Results: A total of 47 interviews were conducted (26 community group participants and 21 clinic group participants). Although participants' asthma networks consisted of a range of health care professionals (HCPs), these did not reflect or encourage MDC. Not only did participants favor minimal interaction with any HCP, they preferred sole-charge care and were found to strongly rely on lay individuals such as family and friends. While general practitioners and respiratory specialists were participants' principal choice of HCP, community pharmacists were less regarded.

Conclusion: Limited opportunities were presented for HCPs to collaborate, particularly pharmacists. As patients' choices of HCPs may strongly influence collaborative processes and outcomes, this research highlights the need to consider patient perspectives in the development of MDC models in primary care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-757
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Pharmacist
  • General practitioner
  • Patient
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Health networks


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