What distinguishes successful medical teams from their less successful counterparts?

Many results from the past years have shown that substandard teamwork can have dramatic consequences or even lead to the loss of life. Good teamwork, on the other hand, can greatly increase patient safety. The identification of mechanisms contrib-uting to successful medical teams is highly relevant for theory and practice alike. For this research purpose, it is important to actually observe teams while they are work-ing rather than surveying them afterwards.

In cooperation with ETH Zurich we have performed various studies investigating successful team dynamics. Our results show that explicit (open, clear, direct) as well as implicit (silent, indirect) coordination mechanisms are important for team performance. However: while for explicit coordination the general rule is «the more the better», for implicit coordination to be effective team members must have a shared understanding of their team- and taskwork. We conclude that members of a team can generally be encouraged to coordinate explicitly, as this seems to directly improve performance, while implicit coordination should be employed with care, as it seems to depend on various variables and requirements. Hence explicit mechanisms such as the creation of routines for questioning implicit assumptions, and the updating of shared mental models, can offer a solution.

Teamdynamics Projects


​Advancing team science by social sensor-based measurement

​Principle Investigator: PD Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Co-Investigators: Dr. Bastian Grande, Dr. Michael Burtscher (UZH)


Speaking Up for patient safety: Investigating the social dynamics of voice behavior in healthcare

Principle Investigator: PD Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Co-Investigators: Dr. Bastian Grande, Prof. Dr. Stefano Brusoni (ETHZ), Dr. Mi-chael Burtscher (UZH)


​Combined technical and non-technical skills training for managing unanticipated difficult intubations

​Princple investigator: Prof. Dr. Gudela Grote (ETH Zurich). Co-investigator: Prof. Dr. Donat R. Spahn. Employees: Dr. Bastian Grande, Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Mona Weiss, Carl Schick.


​Adaptive coordination in anaesthesia teams and its relationship to clinical performance

​Principle Investigator: Prof Dr. Gudela Grote (ETH Zürich), Co-Investigator: Dr. Tanja Manser; Prof. Dr. Donat R. Spahn; Employees: Dr. Michaela Kolbe, Dr. Michael Burtscher.



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