Contextual levers for team-based primary care: Lessons from reform interventions in five jurisdictions in three countries

Grant M Russell, William L Miller, Jane M Gunn, Jean-Frederic Levesque, Mark F Harris, William E Hogg, Cathie M Scott, Jenny R Advocat, Lisa Halma, Sabrina M Chase, Benjamin F Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Most Western nations have sought primary care (PC) reform due to the rising costs of health care and the need to manage long-term health conditions. A common reform- the introduction of inter-professional teams into traditional PC settings-has been difficult to implement despite financial investment and enthusiasm. Objective. To synthesize findings across five jurisdictions in three countries to identify common contextual factors influencing the successful implementation of teamwork within PC practices. Methods. An international consortium of researchers met via teleconference and regular face-to-face meetings using a Collaborative Reflexive Deliberative Approach to re-analyse and synthesize their published and unpublished data and their own work experience. Studies were evaluated through reflection and facilitated discussion to identify factors associated with successful teamwork implementation. Matrices were used to summarize interpretations from the studies. Results. Seven common levers influence a jurisdiction's ability to implement PC teams. Teambased PC was promoted when funding extended beyond fee-for-service, where care delivery did not require direct physician involvement and where governance was inclusive of non-physician disciplines. Other external drivers included: the health professional organizations' attitude towards team-oriented PC, the degree of external accountability required of practices, and the extent of their links with the community and medical neighbourhood. Programs involving outreach facilitation, leadership training and financial support for team activities had some effect. Conclusion. The combination of physician dominance and physician aligned fee-for-service payment structures provide a profound barrier to implement team-oriented PC. Policy makers should carefully consider the influence of these and our other identified drivers when implementing team-oriented PC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbercmx095
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018


  • Evaluation studies
  • Health care reform
  • Policy
  • Primary health care
  • Qualitative research

Cite this

Russell, G. M., Miller, W. L., Gunn, J. M., Levesque, J-F., Harris, M. F., Hogg, W. E., Scott, C. M., Advocat, J. R., Halma, L., Chase, S. M., & Crabtree, B. F. (2018). Contextual levers for team-based primary care: Lessons from reform interventions in five jurisdictions in three countries. Family Practice, 35(3), 276-284. [cmx095].