Physikalische Medizin, Rehabilitationsmedizin, Kurortmedizin 2009; 19 - A10
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1238184

Interdisciplinary Team Working in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine – the European View

C Gutenbrunner 1, V Neumann 1
  • 1Medizinische Hochschule, Hannover

Aim: Effective team working plays a crucial role in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM). As part of its role of optimizing & harmonizing clinical practice across Europe, the Professional Practice Committee of UEMS, PRM Section aims to develop a consensus in this area.

Methods: Scientific literature concerning team-working were reviewed on electronic databases (Medline, Cinahl, PsychLit) using “team“, “multidisciplinary“, “interdisciplinary“ and “rehabilitation“ as key words. Recommendations for good practice were debated at a meeting of national UEMS delegates held in Riga, Latvia in September 2008.

Results: Literature review indicated that effective team working produces better patient outcomes (including better survival rates) in a range of disorders, notably following stroke. There is limited published evidence concerning what constitute the key components of successful teams in PRM programmes. However, the theoretical basis for good team-working has been well-described in other settings and includes agreed aims, agreement & understanding on how best to achieve these, a multi-professional team with an appropriate range of knowledge & skills, mutual trust & respect, willingness to share knowledge and expertise, and to speak openly.

Conclusions: UEMS PRM Section recommends this pattern of working and believes that PRM specialists have an essential role to play in interdisciplinary teams; their training and specific expertise enables them to diagnose and assess severity of health problems, a prerequisite for safe intervention. Their broad training also means they are able to take a holistic view of an individual patient's care, and are therefore well-placed to coordinate PRM programmes and develop and evaluate new management strategies.