Family Matters: Insights Into Late Twentieth Century Interdisciplinary Working Practices From Retired British Healthcare Professionals, Past Ideas and Modern Perspectives

Authors: Turner-Wilson, A., Fisher, R., Crossen-White, H., Hemingway, A. and Mellor, S.

Start date: 1 June 2017

Interdisciplinary working is a common phenomenon in healthcare practice in many countries (e.g. Eaves, 2002). It is however suggested that the British cultural history of this method of working in clinical environments is under-researched. This paper therefore discusses a research pilot study that adopted an oral history approach to obtain insights into interdisciplinary working within healthcare during the latter part of the twentieth century in Britain. The participants within this study were all retired British National Health Service (NHS)professionals. To help trigger memories, participants were encouraged to handle old historical medical objects dated to the time period under review. Two of the themes that emerged from the narrative data analysis, “the family” and “hierarchy”, are highlighted, and this paper considers how these concepts acted as enablers, and sometimes barriers, within interdisciplinary working. The authors ask whether there has been a change in the sense of “belongingness” that some of these ideas nurtured and if, in the modern world, some healthcare staff no longer believe they are as supported, or as accepted by their interdisciplinary colleagues, leading to feelings of insecurity. The paper concludes by asking if the ideology of a “healthcare family” could speak to present day British and international healthcare teams.

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