There remains a need to improve patient safety in primary care settings. Studies have demonstrated that creating high-performing teams can improve patient safety and encourage a safety culture within hospital settings, but little is known about this relationship in primary care.
To examine how team dynamics relate to perceptions of safety culture in primary care and whether care coordination plays an intermediating role.
This is a cross-sectional survey study with 63% response (n = 1082).
The study participants were attending clinicians, resident physicians and other staff who interacted with patients from 19 primary care practices affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Three domains corresponding with our main measures: team dynamics, care coordination and safety culture. All items were measured on a 5-point Likert scale. We used linear regression clustered by practice site to assess the relationship between team dynamics and perceptions of safety culture. We also performed a mediation analysis to determine the extent to which care coordination explains the relationship between perceptions of team dynamics and of safety culture.
For every 1-point increase in overall team dynamics, there was a 0.76-point increase in perception of safety culture [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70–0.82, P < 0.001]. Care coordination mediated the relationship between team dynamics and the perception of safety culture.
Our findings suggest there is a relationship between team dynamics, care coordination and perceptions of patient safety in a primary care setting. To make patients safer, we may need to pay more attention to how primary care providers work together to coordinate care.