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Interprofessional Healthcare Teams: Inquiry into Performativity Using Applied Theatre Open Access


Other title
healthcare teams
arts-based research
forum theatre
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sommerfeldt, Susan C.
Supervisor and department
Caine, Vera (Nursing)
Molzahn, Anita (Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Fenwick, Tara (Education, University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom)
Cameron, Brenda (Nursing)
Conrad, Diane (Education)
Santos, Anna (Nursing)
Taylor, Elizabeth (Rehabilitation Medicine)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
My investigation lives in the borderlands of health sciences research where inquiry, nursing and healthcare practices intersect in inter-disciplinary spaces. The relational aspects of nurses and other healthcare practitioners working together with patients is the area of my inquiry into the performance of teams using applied theatre. Having a non-positivist orientation, this collaborative research is based on the realities of healthcare providers engaged in teams. Participation undergirds arts-based methodologies under which applied theatre is theoretically grounded. The research is consistent with an open inquiry stance. Reviewed literature is threaded throughout as considerations of the topic, methodology, ethics and analysis arise. Beginning with my own story, I invite the reader into the context of my pursuit of the we in interprofessional healthcare team. A narrative introduces the idea of a performative we that becomes the frame of multiple questions to address my primary research question, “What is the relational work of interprofessional healthcare teams?” Interprofessionalism is being intentionally expanded throughout healthcare in response to economic, human resource and patient safety conditions needing to be addressed and such attention is encouraged by the World Health Organization. It is also the focus of practitioners and researchers in expanding networks interested and involved in interprofessionalism throughout the world. Healthcare team’s work and processes are essential components to consider in exploring relationships of individuals brought together interprofessionally to form the team. In this research, healthcare providers participated in co-creating knowledge and understandings about interprofessional healthcare teams through applied theatre research methods using forum theatre to identify struggles in team practices. Performativity, seen as both phenomena and methodology, offered exploration of ways in being a team that are theorized through Pickering’s theory of the Mangle of Practice. Building knowledge with a performative perspective where both humans and non-human agency has a bearing on practices, opens dialogue about the strands of practice situated in what Pickering calls the mangle of practice. The strands of organizational influences, accomplishing tasks and an orientation toward care, became apparent as components of the mangle through crafting scenes of a play using forum theatre methods. Acknowledging sociomateriality in interprofessional interactions has a bearing on team practices. Identifying points of struggle by engaging in forum theatre processes, participants pursued a deeper understanding of struggles with structures in healthcare and teamwork, struggles in having competing attentions, and struggles within their own practices. The outcome of my inquiry makes explicit some of the processes, beliefs and actions that constitute teamwork in healthcare. Employing methods within a participatory approach and performative methodology aligns the inquiry with the nature of the human interactions and performativity that contribute to team performance and ultimately, teamwork.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
S.C. Sommerfeldt (2013), “Articulating Nursing in an Interprofessional World,” Nurse Education in Practice, vol. 13, issue 6, 519-523.S.C. Sommerfeldt, V. Caine, & A. Molzahn (2014), “Considering Performativity as Methodology and Phenomena in Investigating Interprofessional Healthcare Teams” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research vol. 15, issue 2, article 11.

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