Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Ten principles of good interdisciplinary team work

Susan A Nancarrow1*, Andrew Booth2, Steven Ariss2, Tony Smith3, Pam Enderby2 and Alison Roots4

Author Affiliations

1 Southern Cross University, Military Road, East Lismore, 2480, Australia

2 University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 4DA, UK

3 Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S10 2BP, UK

4 University of Victoria, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC, V8P5C2, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

Human Resources for Health 2013, 11:19  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-19

Published: 10 May 2013



Interdisciplinary team work is increasingly prevalent, supported by policies and practices that bring care closer to the patient and challenge traditional professional boundaries. To date, there has been a great deal of emphasis on the processes of team work, and in some cases, outcomes.


This study draws on two sources of knowledge to identify the attributes of a good interdisciplinary team; a published systematic review of the literature on interdisciplinary team work, and the perceptions of over 253 staff from 11 community rehabilitation and intermediate care teams in the UK. These data sources were merged using qualitative content analysis to arrive at a framework that identifies characteristics and proposes ten competencies that support effective interdisciplinary team work.


Ten characteristics underpinning effective interdisciplinary team work were identified: positive leadership and management attributes; communication strategies and structures; personal rewards, training and development; appropriate resources and procedures; appropriate skill mix; supportive team climate; individual characteristics that support interdisciplinary team work; clarity of vision; quality and outcomes of care; and respecting and understanding roles.


We propose competency statements that an effective interdisciplinary team functioning at a high level should demonstrate.

Interdisciplinary team work; Competencies; Intermediate care; Transitional care; Allied health; Systematic review; Evidence synthesis; Qualitative research