Teams and continuity of end-of-life care in hospitals: managing differences of opinion

Kim Devery, Megan Winsall, Deb Rawlings

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BACKGROUND: Recognised as an essential element in end-of-life care by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, effective teamwork can enhance the quality and safety of end-of-life care for patients in hospitals. End-of-Life Essentials (EOLE) is a Commonwealth funded project that delivers peer-reviewed, evidence-based, online education and practice change resources for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals working in hospitals. 'Teams and Continuity for the Patient' features in the suite of EOLE modules and includes education around effective teamwork in end-of-life care. The aim of this study was to explore the views of module learners on managing differences of opinion among staff regarding patient care management. METHODS: Participants were learners (health professionals) who registered to the EOLE website and engaged with the Teams module. Learner responses to a question posed at the end of the module 'How do you manage differences of opinion among staff regarding patient care management?' were extracted for a 12-month period. Qualitative data were analysed thematically in NVivo V.12, with pragmatism as an overarching theoretical framework. Data were coded using an inductive, open approach, and axial coding was used to organise the codes into themes and subthemes. FINDINGS: A total of 293 learner statements were analysed, with subthemes organised into three overarching themes: prioritising the patient, team collaboration and communication skills and emotional awareness. CONCLUSION: In complex, fast-paced, hospital environments, the potential for conflict among teams is high. Quality care relies on team members who work in unison, who can also recognise conflict emerging and respond in respectful and appropriate ways. In this study, the management actions reported by health professionals as proving helpful when differences of opinion among team members arise, are valuable to organisations who are considering how to prepare for quality and safety accreditation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001724
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • communication
  • education
  • palliative care
  • patient-centred care
  • teams


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