A network model of communication in an interprofessional team of healthcare professionals: A cross-sectional study of a burn unit

David A. Shoham, Jenine K. Harris*, Marlon Mundt, William McGaghie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Healthcare teams consist of individuals communicating with one another during patient care delivery. Coordination of multiple specialties is critical for patients with complex health conditions, and requires interprofessional and intraprofessional communication. We examined a communication network of 71 health professionals in four professional roles: physician, nurse, health management, and support personnel (dietitian, pharmacist, or social worker), or other health professionals (including physical, respiratory, and occupational therapists, and medical students) working in a burn unit. Data for this cross-sectional study were collected by surveying members of a healthcare team. Ties were defined by asking team members whom they discussed patient care matters with on the shift. We built an exponential random graph model to determine: (1) does professional role influence the likelihood of a tie; (2) are ties more likely between team members from different professions compared to between team members from the same profession; and (3) which professions are more likely to form interprofessional ties. Health management and support personnel ties were 94% interprofessional while ties among nurses were 60% interprofessional. Nurses and other health professionals were significantly less likely than physicians to form ties. Nurses were 1.64 times more likely to communicate with nurses than non-nurses (OR = 1.64, 95% CI: 1.01–2.66); there was no significant role homophily for physicians, other health professionals, or health management and support personnel. Understanding communication networks in healthcare teams is an early step in understanding how teams work together to provide care; future work should evaluate the types and quality of interactions between members of interprofessional healthcare teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2016


  • Burn unit
  • healthcare team
  • interprofessional team
  • network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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