Deakin University
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Exploring reasoning mechanisms in ward rounds: a critical realist multiple case study

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Paul Perversi, John YearwoodJohn Yearwood, Emilia BellucciEmilia Bellucci, Andrew Stranieri, Jim Warren, Frada Burstein, Heather Mays, Alan Wolff
BACKGROUND: Ward rounds are an important and ubiquitous element of hospital care with a history extending well over a century. Although originally intended as a means of educating medical trainees and junior doctors, over time they have become focused on supporting clinical practice. Surprisingly, given their ubiquity and importance, they are under-researched and inadequately understood. This study aims to contribute knowledge in human reasoning within medical teams, meeting a pressing need for research concerning the reasoning occurring in rounds. METHODS: The research reported here aimed to improve the understanding of ward round reasoning by conducting a critical realist case study exploring the collaborative group reasoning mechanisms in the ward rounds of two hospitals in Victoria, Australia. The data collection involved observing rounds, interviewing medical practitioners and holding focus group meetings. RESULTS: Nine group reasoning mechanisms concerning sharing, agreeing and recording information in the categories of information accumulation, sense-making and decision-making were identified, together forming a program theory of ward round reasoning. In addition, themes spanning across mechanisms were identified, further explaining ward round reasoning and suggesting avenues for future exploration. Themes included the use of various criteria, tensions involving mechanisms, time factors, medical roles and hierarchies. CONCLUSIONS: This paper contributes to the literature by representing rounds in a manner that strengthens understanding of the form of the group reasoning occurring within, thus supporting theory-based evaluation strategies, redesigned practices and training enhancements.



BMC health services research



Article number



1 - 11


BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2018, The Authors