Team learning and innovation in nursing teams: Results of a comprehensive research project

Olaf Timmermans, Roland Van Linge, Peter Van Petegem, Joke Denekens


Background/Objective: Noncompliance to implementation of innovations is a problem in nursing teams. In literature, team learning is proposed as a facilitator for change. Still, studies reporting the effects of team learning activities on the implementation of innovations in nursing teams are scarce. To address this gap in literature, this study explored the influence of team learning on the implementation of two innovations.

Methods: A literature and three empirical studies were performed to address the research questions of this project. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted between 2008-2011 with a sample of 1111 nurses, representing 79 nursing teams from The Netherlands and Belgium.

Results: The results of the literature review revealed research on team learning and innovation in nursing is limited. Team learning included processes to gather, process, and store information from different innovations within the nursing team. The prevalence of team-learning activities was contributed or hindered by individual and contextual factors. Principal component analyses of a 26-item team learning activities scale revealed a five-factor model, explaining 78% of the variance. Team-composition explained 33% of team learning. Analyses on the influence of contextual factors yielded three models that explained 76%, 81% and 83% of the variance in team learning. Positive relationships were detected between team learning activities handling production-oriented information and implementation-effectiveness of an incremental innovation. In addition, team learning activities regarding development-oriented information positively affected the implementation of a radical innovation.

Conclusions: Nursing teams undertake different team learning activities to process different types of information that cross over within the nursing team. The way the nursing team is composed had a minor effect on the prevalence of team learning activities in nursing teams. Contextual factors had a major effect on the prevalence of team learning activities. Team learning activities related to the production of nursing care had a positive effect on the implementation of an incremental innovation. Team learning activities related with the development of nursing care of the team positively affected the implementation of a radical innovation.

Implications for practice and policy: Throughout team learning nursing teams can enhance their implementation-effectiveness on innovations and increase patient safety and the quality of provided nursing managers and nursing teams can develop effective team learning processes that enable nursing teams to improve implementation-effectiveness of different types of innovations.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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