Background Links between teamwork and outcomes have been established in a number of fields. Investigations into this link in healthcare have yielded equivocal results.

Objective To examine the relationship between the level of self-identified teamwork in the intensive care unit and patients’ outcomes.

Method A total of 394 staff members of 17 intensive care units completed the Group Development Questionnaire and a demographic survey. The questionnaire is a reliable and valid measure of team development and effectiveness. Each unit’s predicted and actual mortality rates for the month in which data were collected were obtained. Pearson product moment correlations and analyses of variance were used to analyze the data.

Results Staff members of units with mortality rates that were lower than predicted perceived their teams as functioning at higher stages of group development. They perceived their team members as less dependent and more trusting than did staff members of units with mortality rates that were higher than predicted. Staff members of high-performing units also perceived their teams as more structured and organized than did staff members of lower-performing units.

Conclusions The results of this study and others establish a link between teamwork and patients’ outcomes in intensive care units. The evidence is sufficient to warrant the implementation of strategies designed to improve the level of teamwork and collaboration among staff members in intensive care units.

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