Review Article| Volume 29, ISSUE 4, 104622, April 2020

Stroke Inpatient Rehabilitation Team Conferences: Leadership and Structure Improve Patient Outcomes


      Consensus on how rehabilitation teamwork and services are optimally coordinated continues to be a work in progress. One area of recent research has been inpatient-rehabilitation team conferences in stroke. The prevalence of Americans living with stroke is expected to gradually increase as the U.S. population ages, as will the related direct and indirect costs. Effective interdisciplinary team conferences during acute-stroke inpatient-rehabilitation are key to managing long-term costs while improving functional outcomes. Effective team conferences help to identify patients at risk for medical complications and institutionalization and help to determine interventions that will focus on patients’ medical, physical, cognitive, emotional, and social barriers to recovery and barriers to a community/home disposition. This scoping review paper identifies and analyzes literature on theory and structure of effective teams with the focus on stroke interdisciplinary rehabilitation team conferences and offers suggestions for improvement. Potential flaws of commonly used team conference formats are described. Studies are outlined showing associations between stroke patient outcomes and better care coordination and leadership in medical teamwork; and 2 examples of successful interdisciplinary team conference models used in stroke inpatient-rehabilitation are provided that support a case for a proactive, conscious structure to team conferences. Given the complexity of many stroke patients’ clinical care, greater attention to team functioning, and especially team conference leadership and structure, may be a promising area of focus to improve the quality of health care services for people with stroke.

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