Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Purpose: Effective collaboration has been identified as essential to quality patient care processes and outcomes. Yet, the conceptual and theoretical basis for understanding and practicing collaboration remains underdeveloped and imprecise. These factors may hamper the study of collaboration and therefore the optimization of care processes and outcomes. The purpose of this study was to understand the social processes associated with collaboration between nurses and physicians, with the intention of theory development.

Background: Collaboration, or a lack thereof, has been shown to impact both provider and patient satisfaction and outcomes. JCAHO now requires proof of collaboration for accreditation. Many organizations state that their providers collaborate for the betterment of patient care. However, a thorough literature search determined that a theory of nurse-physician collaboration based in healthcare has yet to be published. Without theoretical support it is difficult to devise precise measurement instruments to truly understand the current level of collaboration and develop strategies for improvement.

Method: A grounded theory study was conducted with the intent of developing a theory to support nurse-physician collaboration.

Sample: Data were collected from 15 nurses and 7 physicians with a wide range of experience and training from a variety of units thus allowing the theory to be applicable to a range of professionals.

Research Question: The purpose, or main concern, of this study was to conceptually understand if and how nurse-physician collaboration takes place with the intention of theory development.

Results: Results indicated that the process of nurse physician collaboration involves 9 stages: something needs our attention; knowing who to talk to; finding the right perso; coming together; exchanging ideas and information; developing the plan; getting everybody on the right page; making it happen; and monitoring progress. The core category of working together toward a common goal describes how nurses and physicians collaborate for patient care. It is anticipated that this theory will add to the body of knowledge and contribute to the understanding of collaboration between these two disciplines.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Nursing Commons