The challenges of boundary spanners in supporting inter-organizational collaboration in primary care: a qualitative study of general practitioners in a new role

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Marius Brostrøm Kousgaard, Anne Sofie Kjær Joensen, Thorkil Thorsen

Background: The visions of more integrated care have created new roles and accountabilities for organizationsand professionals. Thus, professionals are increasingly expected to engage in boundary spanning activities in order to facilitate inter-organizational and inter-sectoral collaboration. However, this task can be difficult for individual actors and it is important to investigate the work and challenges of boundary spanners in various settings. This study explores the challenges related to a new boundary spanning role for general practitioners employed to facilitate collaboration between the municipalities and general practice.

Methods: The study is based on semi-structured interviews with ten general practitioners acting as municipal practice consultants in the Capital Region of Denmark. The transcribed interviews were analyzed in several steps organizing the material into a set of coherent and distinct categories covering the different types of challenges experienced by the informants.

Results: The main challenges of the general practitioners acting as boundary spanners were: 1) defining and negotiating the role in terms of tasks and competencies; 2) representing and mobilizing colleagues in general practice; 3) navigating in an unfamiliar organizational context.

Conclusions: The results support previous studies in emphasizing the difficult and multifaceted character of theboundary spanning role. While some of these challenges are not easily dealt with due to their structural causes, organizations employing boundary spanners should take note of these challenges and support their boundary spanners with matching resources and competencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalB M C Family Practice
Volume16
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
ISSN1471-2296
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2015

ID: 141094333