Groupthink among health professional teams in patient care: A scoping review

Karissa DiPierro, Hannah Lee, Kevin J. Pain, Steven J. Durning, Justin J. Choi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


There is emerging interest in understanding group decision making among a team of health professionals. Groupthink, a term coined by Irving Janis to depict premature consensus seeking in highly cohesive groups, is a theory that has been widely discussed in disciplines outside health care. However, it remains unclear how it has been conceptualized, studied, and mitigated in the context of health professionals conducting patient care. This scoping review aimed to examine the conceptualization of groupthink in health care, empirical research conducted in healthcare teams, and recommendations to avoid groupthink. Eight databases were systematically searched for articles focusing on groupthink among health professional teams using a scoping review methodology. A total of 22 articles were included—most were commentaries or narrative reviews with only four empirical research studies. This review found that focus on groupthink and group decision making in medicine is relatively new and growing in interest. Few empirical studies on groupthink in health professional teams have been performed and there is conceptual disagreement on how to interpret groupthink in the context of clinical practice. Future research should develop a theoretical framework that applies groupthink theory to clinical decision making and medical education, validate the groupthink framework in clinical settings, develop measures of groupthink, evaluate interventions that mitigate groupthink in clinical practice, and examine how groupthink may be situated amidst other emerging social cognitive theories of collaborative clinical decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-318
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Groupthink
  • errors
  • group decision making
  • healthcare team
  • scoping review


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