Physician experiences of patient-centered and team- based ward rounding – an interview based case-study

Fredrik Baathe, Gunnar Ahlborg Jr, Annica Lagström, Lars Edgren, Kerstin Nilsson


Background: Rounding has long traditions within hospital-based healthcare, as a way to organize the ward-based part of the care and cure process. Despite an increased emphasis on patient participation, there has been limited research exploring physician experiences of actually applying these principles to the ward round.

Aim: To explore physician experiences after changing to a patient-centered and team-based ward round, in an internal medicine department at a Swedish mid-size hospital.

Methods: Qualitative exploratory case-study. Semi-structured interviews with 13 physicians (six consultants, three residents, four interns) have been carried out. All interviews have been transcribed and analyzed by qualitative method.

Results: The traditional relationship of superiority and subordination, embodied by the patient lying down in bed and the physician standing over the bed, was one essential change in the new ward round. Physicians experienced that less hierarchical relationships with patients, combined with working in a multi-professional team, contributed to better-informed clinical decisions, fewer follow-up questions from patients, and increased professional fulfilment. However, physicians also experienced that their autonomy was being reduced, and there was uneasiness about exposing potential knowledge gaps in front of others.

Conclusions: This qualitative study of physician experiences finds that patient-centered and team-based ward rounds is a fertile development journey forward. Also important to notice are the seemingly new and paradoxical findings that despite the introduction of the “right” ward round structure, negative experiences emerged as unwanted side effects to the positive experiences reported. It could be beneficial for leaders in healthcare (both managers and physicians) to consider these results to facilitate future ward round initiatives.


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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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