Learning From Partnership Tensions in Transcultural Interdisciplinary Case Discussion Seminars: A Qualitative Study of Collaborative Youth Mental Health Care Informed by Game Theory

Johnson-Lafleur, J., Papazian-Zohrabian, G. et Rousseau, C. (2019)

Social Science & Medicine


Although collaborative care was adopted in several countries, including Canada, to improve the health and social services system, partnerships are often experienced as challenging. In many cases, transformative partnership remains a political rhetoric rather than a practical reality. This article presents an analysis of partnership relationships in youth mental health (YMH) using insights from game theory and a qualitative analysis of interactions during transcultural interinstitutional and interdisciplinary case discussion seminars (TIICDSs).

Drawing on the analysis of 40 seminar sessions and six focus groups with seminar participants conducted in Montréal (Canada) between October 2013 and April 2015, this article interrogates the conditions and processes present in TIICDSs that contribute to building and strengthening YMH partnerships, examining how tensions among TIICDS participants are attended to.

Research results indicate that TIICDSs can be seen as a game operating under different rules than real-life clinical work. They are characterized by the establishment of a climate of trust and respect, a high value placed on diversity and creativity, a concern for affects and power dynamics, a process of inclusive dialogue and negotiation, and a consideration for continuity. The game rules allow participants to safely apprehend a situation from a different perspective, a key competence in intercultural and collaborative YMH care. Results also indicate that participants complexify their representations by playing with divergent perceptions of people and situations and that enhanced case formulations are collective game outcomes. In light of our findings, tensions in collaborations can be seen as constituting both obstacles that can be counterproductive if not attended to, as well as powerful and useful learning tools that, under certain conditions, can support the clinical process and contribute to partnership building. Some clinical and partnership impasses may be overcome through clinical case discussions that allow partners to address these tensions and negotiate power relationships.