Inter- and intra-disciplinary collaboration and patient safety outcomes in U.S. acute care hospital units: A cross-sectional study

Chenjuan Ma, Shin Hye Park, Jingjing Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Collaboration among healthcare providers has been considered a promising strategy for improving care quality and patient outcomes. Despite mounting evidence demonstrating the impact of collaboration on outcomes of healthcare providers, there is little empirical evidence on the relationship between collaboration and patient safety outcomes, particularly at the patient care unit level. Objectives: The purpose of this study is to identify the extent to which interdisciplinary collaboration between nurses and physicians and intradisciplinary collaboration among nurses on patient care units are associated with patient safety outcomes. Methods: This is a cross-sectional study using nurse survey data and patient safety indicators data from U.S. acute care hospital units. Collaboration at the unit level was measured by two 6-item scales: nurse-nurse interaction scale and nurse-physician interaction scale. Patient outcome measures included hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs) and patient falls. The unit of analysis was the patient care unit, and the final sample included 900 units of 5 adult unit types in 160 hospitals in the U.S. Multilevel logistic and Poisson regressions were used to estimate the relationship between collaboration and patient outcomes. All models were controlled for hospital and unit characteristics, and clustering of units within hospitals was considered. Results: On average, units had 26 patients with HAPUs per 1000 patients and 3 patient falls per 1000 patient days. Critical care units had the highest HAPU rate (50/1000 patients) and the lowest fall rate (1/1000 patient days). A one-unit increase in the nurse-nurse interaction scale score led to 31% decrease in the odds of having a HAPU (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56–0.82) and 8% lower patient fall rate (IRR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.87–0.98) on a nursing unit. A one-unit increase in the nurse-physician interaction scale score was associated with 19% decrease in the odds of having a HAPU (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68–0.97) and 13% lower fall rates (IRR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.82–0.93) on a unit. Conclusions: Both nurse-physician collaboration and nurse-nurse collaboration were significantly associated with patient safety outcomes. Findings from this study suggest that improving collaboration among healthcare providers should be considered as an important strategy for promoting patient safety and both interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary collaboration are critical for achieving better patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
StatePublished - Sep 2018



  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Intradisciplinary collaboration
  • Nurses
  • Patient falls
  • Patient safety
  • Pressure ulcer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

Cite this