Interprofessional education: a review of context, learning and the research agenda
Article first published online: 13 DEC 2011
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2012
Volume 46, Issue 1, pages 58–70, January 2012
How to Cite
Thistlethwaite, J. (2012), Interprofessional education: a review of context, learning and the research agenda. Medical Education, 46: 58–70. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.04143.x
- Issue published online: 13 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 13 DEC 2011
- Received 14 February 2011; editorial comments to author 18 April 2011, 9 June 2011, 2 August 2011; accepted for publication 9 August 2011
Medical Education 2012: 46: 58–70
Context Interprofessional education (IPE) is not a recent phenomenon and has been the subject of several World Health Organization reports. Its focus is on health professionals and students learning with, from and about one another to improve collaboration and the quality of patient care. The drivers for IPE include new models of health care delivery in the context of an ageing population and the increasing prevalence of long-term chronic disease, in addition to the patient safety agenda. The delivery of complex health care requires a team-based and collaborative approach, although teamwork and collaborative practice are not necessarily synonymous. The rationale for IPE is that learning together enhances future working together.
Discussion Systematic reviews of IPE have shown some evidence that IPE fosters positive interaction among different professions and variable evidence that it improves attitudes towards other professionals. Generalisation across published papers is difficult because IPE initiatives are diverse and good evaluation methodology and data are lacking. In terms of constructive alignment from an education viewpoint, there is a need for educators to define learning outcomes and match these with learning activities to ensure that IPE demonstrates added value over uniprofessional learning. Assessment is difficult as pre-qualification professional education focuses on the individual and professional accreditation organisations mandate only for their own professions.
Conclusions Interprofessional education draws from a number of education, sociology and psychology theories, and these are briefly discussed. The most pressing research questions for the IPE community are defined and the challenges for IPE explored.