This study intended to analyze the assigned meaning and the contributions of the work of the Family Health Support Centers, as well as the barriers and challenges to the daily practice of matrix support. This is a qualitative study involving multiple cases, which was performed in six cities in Bahia, Brazil. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 43 professionals from the support centers and 40 from the family health teams. We used the theoretical reference of the matrix support in the pedagogical, therapeutic and institutional dimensions. The results were grouped into three categories: (Mis) Understandings about the work of the support centers; Infrastructure and working conditions; Appreciation and management of work. Our study has unveiled divergent understandings among supporters and family health teams about the role of the matrix support process, with conflicting expectations and implications for work. The current infrastructure has proved to be insufficient and inappropriate for the work of matrix support. The little appreciation of the support centers was also highlighted through the low adherence of the community to the collective activities, unsatisfactory wages and excessive workload. Misunderstandings about the innovative nature of matrix support and structural difficulties indicate outstanding challenges for achieving the supportive function.
primary health care; family health; patient care team; helath personnel