Skip to content

Optimizing rural healthcare through improved team function: a case study of the RSON programme

Journal of Interprofessional Care


Authors: Jude Kornelsen, Hilary Ho, Kim Williams & Tom Skinner

Publication Date: November 2023


This study explores enablers and mechanisms of optimal team function within rural hospital teams, and the impact of these factors on health service sustainability in British Columbia. The data was drawn from interviews and focus groups with healthcare providers and administrators (n = 169) who participated in the Rural Surgical Obstetrical Networks (RSON) initiative to support low-volume rural surgical and obstetrical services in British Columbia, Canada. The 5-year programme (2018–2022) provided evidence-based system interventions across eight rural sites with the objective of providing sustainable, quality health services to meet population needs.


Through inductive thematic analysis of interview data, five enablers of good team function were identified at RSON sites, including emphasis on local leadership, shared direction, commitment to sustainability, respect and solidarity among colleagues, and meaningful communication. The RSON project led to a shift in team culture in participating sites, improved team function, and contributed to improved clinical processes and patient outcomes. The findings have implications for rural health policy and practice in British Columbia and other jurisdictions with similar health service delivery models and geographic contexts.

Start typing and press enter to see results