Teams communicating through STEPPS

Karen Stead, Saravana Kumar, Timothy J. Schultz, Sue Tiver, Christy J. Pirone, Robert Adams, Conrad A. Wareham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of a TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) program at an Australian mental health facility.

Design, setting and participants: TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based teamwork training system developed in the United States. Five health care sites in South Australia implemented TeamSTEPPS using a train-the-trainer model over an 8-month intervention period commencing January 2008 and concluding September 2008. A team of senior clinical staff was formed at each site to drive the improvement process. Independent researchers used direct observation and questionnaire surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation in three outcome areas: observed team behaviours; staff attitudes and opinions; and clinical performance and outcome. The results reported here focus on one site, an inpatient mental health facility.

Main outcome measures: Team knowledge, skills and attitudes; patient safety culture; incident reporting rates; seclusion rates; observation for the frequency of use of TeamSTEPPS tools.

Results: Outcomes included restructuring of multidisciplinary meetings and the introduction of structured communication tools. The evaluation of patient safety culture and of staff knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA) to teamwork and communication indicated a significant improvement in two dimensions of patient safety culture (frequency of event reporting, and organisational learning) and a 6.8% increase in the total KSA score. Clinical outcomes included reduced rates of seclusion.

Conclusion: TeamSTEPPS implementation had a substantial impact on patient safety culture, teamwork and communication at an Australian mental health facility. It encouraged a culture of learning from patient safety incidents and making continuous improvements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S128-S132
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number11 Supplement
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • teamwork
  • communication
  • patient safety culture
  • TeamSTEPPS


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