Care for the frail elderly is often provided by several professionals. Collaboration between them is essential, but remains difficult to achieve. Interprofessional education (IPE) can improve this collaboration. We developed a 9-hour IPE program for primary care professionals from 7 disciplines caring for the frail elderly, and aimed to establish whether the program improved professionals' interprofessional attitudes and attitudes toward collaboration, collaboration skills, and collaborative behavior. We also evaluated learners' reactions to the program.
Before–after study, using the Interprofessional Attitudes Questionnaire (IAQ, score:1 to 7); Attitudes Toward Health Care Teams Scale (ATHCTS, score: 0 to 105); and Team Skills Scale (TSS, score:17 to 85). Additionally, semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 selected participants.
Participants' (N = 80) overall interprofessional attitudes improved (IAQ baseline: 5.49; follow-up: 5.67, p = 0.001); attitudes toward geriatric teams did not change (ATHCTS baseline: 69.9; follow-up: 69.1, p = 0.32). Participants' self-reported team skills improved (TSS baseline: 45.7; follow-up: 48.1, p = 0.001). In the interviews, many interviewees reported increased collaboration with professionals of other disciplines due to the program. Interviewees considered the program's interprofessional nature and attending the program with local professionals important contributing factors to the experienced improvements in collaboration. However, they also noted that not all parts of the program had met the needs of all participating disciplines, due to differences in professional background and knowledge.
A brief IPE program can improve interprofessional attitudes, collaboration skills, and collaborative behavior. That such a program allows professionals to get acquainted with each other and each other's viewpoints appears to be as important as the educational content.