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Keywords:

  • educational theories;
  • health and social care;
  • interprofessional education;
  • post-qualification students;
  • pre-qualification students;
  • review;
  • teaching methods

Abstract

This paper presents a critical review of literature on interprofessional education in the continuum of professional development in health and social care. In particular it explores the range and variety of theoretical frameworks underpinning interprofessional education initiatives across the United Kingdom. In doing so this paper highlights the limited application of educational theory within the broader literature, particularly in the description of the methods employed and in the choices of processes or outcome measures selected. Despite these drawbacks, a focus on the learning and teaching methods used within each interprofessional education programme enabled an explicit categorization of the educational theories being applied (albeit implicitly). The educational theories identified predominantly linked to adult learning theory and reflective practitioner theory. It is, however, acknowledged that such theories alone are not enough to underpin interprofessional education. Theories were therefore also derived from social psychological studies of group behaviour and teamwork approaches; group development and team learning theories focusing on intragroup collaboration; and bio-psychological theories to inform interprofessional education. The paper concludes that (a) more explicit consideration of theory is required in the development of new interventions; (b) reference to educational theory in evaluation should be encouraged and facilitated; (c) evaluation of different models of interprofessional educational interventions is required if interprofessional education in health and social care is to develop as an informed practice rather than become a transient educational fashion.