INTERPROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION: Healthcare Teams, Patient Handoffs, and Multiteam Systems

Kevin Real, Anne Ray Streeter, Marshall Scott Poole

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines interprofessional communication through the lens of healthcare teams, patient handoffs, and multiteam systems, key elements of communication systems in healthcare organizations. An emerging body of research illustrates how built environments shape healthcare team communication and patient care processes. Proximity and visibility are highlighted as important design features of effective environments, and recent observational research is reviewed that underscores the complex and multifaceted nature of team communication. Patient handoffs are examined for their critical role in patient safety. Specific strategies to improve handoff communication competency are explored, as is extant research on use of specific handoff tools and technology to facilitate effective handoff communication. Multiteam systems are an element of interprofessional communication important to both teams and handoffs. Communication across multiteam systems is illustrated using a typology based on a continuum of interdependence, boundedness, centralization, and diversity. Network homophily is briefly reviewed for its effect on interprofessional communication, including creation of fault lines among team members. Communication researchers are positioned to examine how communication in healthcare teams, patient handoffs, and multiteam systems can be enhanced through communication structures designed to improve patient safety and increase clarity, shared goals, shared responsibility, and team competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Health Communication, Third Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000451375
ISBN (Print)9780367487447
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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