OBJECTIVE: To analyze how psychosocial care center users, family members and workers assess related work by reference team and professionals. METHODS: Qualitative research based on Constructivist Paradigm and Gadamerian Hermeneutics. Two cycles of focus groups consisting of professionals, users and users' family members from all psychosocial care centers in the city of Campinas (Southeastern Brazil), in 2006, were analyzed. RESULTS: Reference work was assessed as an arrangement that has therapeutic effects and contributes to the work organization efficacy. However, risks related to power centralized by reference professionals and to workers' suffering, as these may feel overly responsible for the case they are reference for, were reported. CONCLUSIONS: The effects of the "reference team/professionals" arrangement on patients are based on emotional aspects associated with reliability, constancy and integrality of care. In contrast, such aspects also show relationship problems, especially as regards omnipotence, which may involve the worker.
Patient Care Team; Institutional Management Teams; Patient-Centered Care; Professional-Patient Relations; Mental Health Services; Qualitative Research