First Advisor

Sherril B. Gelmon

Date of Publication

Fall 1-3-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Health Systems and Policy


Public Administration




Health care teams -- United States -- Management, Health services administrators -- United States, Health care teams -- Training of -- United States, Interprofessional relations -- United States, Older people -- Medical care -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 241 pages)


The aging population in the U.S. is dramatically increasing; it is predicted that not only will individuals live longer but also that they will live with multiple chronic diseases that could require high levels of medical and social resources. While the aging population increases, the number of health care providers choosing to specialize in caring for the elderly is decreasing just as dramatically. Teams are believed to be a possible response to more efficiently use the providers available, take advantage of alternative provider types, and integrate a range of health and social services to meet patient needs more effectively. Interdisciplinary teams are the best practice in the care of older adults, who require both medical and social services. However, maintaining functional collaborative teams has been an ever-present challenge to health and social care organizations. Research has found that institutional support is critical for teams to benefit patients and organizations alike.

This study examined the role of institutional context in supporting interdisciplinary teams (IDT) in the care of older adults through interviews of the management and staff of the Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) in six states. PACE organizations must commit to an interdisciplinary model of care consisting of 11 different disciplines from across the professional spectrum. The research question posed for this study was: What elements of institutional context support the use of interdisciplinary teams in the care of older adults? Due to the standardized team structure used, PACE was selected as the model to see how institutions at macro and micro levels support the work done by PACE teams and possibly highlight where support is still lacking. A case study approach drawing upon qualitative methods was used to examine policy-regulative, cultural-cognitive, normative, relational, and procedural elements of institutional context and the extent to which they support collaborative teamwork. Thirty-two interviews were conducted with administrators and team members from seven PACE programs across the country. For these PACE programs, five elements and 14 categories of support were identified by the interviewees. Policy and regulatory elements constrain and systematize behavior. PACE IDT experience these constraints and systems through regulatory body practices, resource allocation, and quality measurement. Cultural-cognitive elements mediate between an IDT's external environmrder to make sense of what is happening. PACE IDTs create meaning through their interactions with their external environments through interdependence, demographic characteristics, and organizational structure. Normative findings constrain behavior and confer the rights and duties of IDT members, which arise from organizational mission and values, leadership, and professient and the response of the IDT in oonal boundaries. Relational elements emphasize relationships among IDT members and team interaction with the organization's environment. Social constructs within the team affect role definition and communication, which support IDT practice. Procedural support standardizes practices to maintain highly functional teams. In order to support IDT practice, PACE organizations highlighted recruitment and retention, time and space, and training and education as the primary ways to support IDTs. These categories illustrate the complexity of supporting teams and actualizing teamwork in practice. These findings suggest that PACE is succeeding in supporting the IDT model and provides lessons for other organizations that wish to do the same.


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