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Intergroup relationships and quality improvement in healthcare
  1. Jean M Bartunek
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jean M Bartunek, Department of Organization Studies, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808, USA; bartunek{at}


Background Intergroup problems among physicians, nurses and administrators in healthcare settings sometimes retard such settings' ability to foster enhanced quality of care. Without knowledge of the social dynamics that generate the difficulties, it is impossible to address some crucial issues that may affect quality initiatives.

Methods This paper reviews three types of dynamics, social identity, communities of practice and socialisation into particular professional identities that affect relationships among professional groups in healthcare settings.

Recommendations A suggestion is made for the creation of cross-boundary communities of practice, socialisation into them and dual, superordinate identities as a means to foster more effective intergroup dynamics and, thus, contribute to a greater quality of care.

  • Quality of healthcare
  • physicians
  • nurses
  • administrators
  • occupational groups
  • communication, crew resource management
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • organisation
  • teams

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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