Decision polarization among rehabilitation team recommendations concerning discharge housing for stroke patients Academic Article uri icon


  • This study sought to identify if decision polarization effects were operating in rehabilitation teams when making discharge housing recommendations for stroke patients. Using a Social Judgment Theory approach, individual clinicians were asked to nominate discharge housing for stroke patients. Teams were then assembled and clinicians repeated the task. The research was conducted at a sample of seven in-patient rehabilitation hospitals. The subjects were 74 clinicians who formed 13 teams. All subjects were volunteers, and represented the following professions: medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and social work. A casebook which described 50 hypothetical stroke patients in terms of eight attributes was devised for the study. Subjects made housing recommendations to these patients using a 7-point scale. When compared to individual clinicians' recommendations, it was found that team housing recommendations made by all 13 teams polarized towards both more supported and, in the other extreme, more independent types of housing. However, teams placed a stronger emphasis on supported housing when compared with individual clinician decisions. This decision polarization suggests that housing recommendations made to patients may reflect team processes as well as patient needs. Rehabilitation teams should be aware of this negative team dynamic so that steps to minimize decision polarization can be taken.

publication date

  • March 1997