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Education needs for integrated care: a literature review


  • Michelle Howarth MSc PGCHE RGN,

  • Karen Holland BSc MSc RN Cert Ed,

  • Maria J. Grant BA MSc PGCHE

Michelle Howarth,
University of Salford,
Frederick Road Campus,
Frederick Road,
Manchester M6 6PU,


Aim.  This paper reports a systematic review to identify the education needs of the workforce within primary care to promote the effective delivery of integrated health and social care services.

Background.  The need for different professionals to work more closely dominates global health policy. The drive to develop a workforce prepared for the future is crucial to the success of integrated services. However, some have argued that nurses are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of integrated service provision. The ability to work interprofessionally is an important skill which needs to be developed to support integrated working.

Methods.  Structured searches were undertaken on organizational websites and the Caredata, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Sociofile databases between December 2002 and April 2004 to identify policy documents and primary research studies. The robustness of identified research studies were appraised using recognized appraisal tools.

Findings.  Six themes were identified which indicate essential elements needed for integrated care. The need for effective communication between professional groups within teams and an emphasis on role awareness are central to the success of integrated services. In addition, education about the importance of partnership working and the need for professionals to develop skills in relation to practice development and leadership through professional and personal development is needed to support integrated working.

Conclusion.  Education which embeds essential attributes to integrated working is needed to advance nursing practice for interprofessional working. Further research exploring this and its impact on integrated provision is essential to ensure that evidence-based services are provided. The reinforcement of partnerships between higher education institutions and health and social care organizations should ensure that the workforce is educated to manage continuous change in service delivery. Innovative ways of teaching and learning which promote inter-professional working need to be explored.