Interdisciplinary collaborations (i.e., where various disciplines work coordinated and interdependently toward shared goals) are stated to yield higher team effectiveness than multidisciplinary approaches (i.e., where various disciplines work in parallel within their professional boundaries) in somatic health care settings. Nevertheless, research is lacking on interdisciplinary approaches for alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment of hospitalized patients as these types of approaches are still uncommon. This study aims to evaluate an innovative interdisciplinary AUD treatment initiative at a general hospital department by 1) identifying which and to what extent network partners are involved and 2) to explore how network partners experienced the interdisciplinary collaboration.
A mixed-method study was conducted, using 1) measures of contact frequency and closeness in a social network analysis and 2) semi-structured interviews, which were analyzed thematically. Respondents were network partners of an interdisciplinary collaboration in a general hospital department, initially recruited by the collaborations’ project leader.
The social network analysis identified 16 network partners, including a ‘core’ network with five central network partners from both inside and outside the hospital. The project leader played an important central role in the network and the resident gastroenterologist seemed to have a vulnerable connection within the network. Closeness between network partners was experienced regardless of frequency of contact, although this was especially true for the ‘core’ group that (almost) always consisted of the same network partners that were present at biweekly meetings. Interview data showed that presence of the ‘core’ network partners was reported crucial for an efficient collaboration. Respondents desired knowledge about the collaborations’ effectiveness, and one structured protocol with working procedures, division of responsibilities and agreements on information sharing and feedback.
The design of this interdisciplinary collaboration has potential in improving the treatment of hospital patients with AUD and was evaluated positively by the involved network partners. Interdisciplinary collaborations may offer a critical solution to increase treatment rates of patients with AUD and should be adopted in hospitals on a larger scale. Research towards the effectiveness of interdisciplinary collaborations in the treatment of hospitalized patients with AUD is needed.