Learning theories and interprofessional education: a user’s guide


  • Sarah Hean PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1.  Senior Lecturer (Research Methods), School of Health & Social Care (HSC), Bournemouth University, R114, Royal London House, Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 3LT, UK
      *Corresponding author. Tel: +44 0 1202 9 62201; fax: +44 0 1202 9 62194; e-mail: shean@bournemouth.ac.uk
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  • Deborah Craddock MA BSc (Hons) DPodM,

    1.  MSc Programme Leader, School of Health Sciences, Building 45, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus SO17 1BJ
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  • Cath O’Halloran PhD

    1.  Head of Department of Clinical and Health Sciences, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH
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*Corresponding author. Tel: +44 0 1202 9 62201; fax: +44 0 1202 9 62194; e-mail: shean@bournemouth.ac.uk


There is increasing interest in the theoretical underpinning of interprofessional education (IPE) and writers in this field are drawing on a wide range of disciplines for theories that have utility in IPE. While this has undoubtedly enriched the research literature, for the educational practitioner, whose aim is to develop and deliver an IPE curriculum that has sound theoretical underpinnings, this plethora of theories has become a confusing, and un-navigable quagmire. This article aims to provide a compass for those educational practitioners by presenting a framework that summarizes key learning theories used in IPE and the relationship between them. The study reviews key contemporary learning theories from the wider field of education used in IPE and the explicit applications of these theories in the IPE literature to either curriculum design or programme evaluation. Through presenting a broad overview and summary framework, the study clarifies the way in which learning theories can aid IPE curriculum development and evaluation. It also highlights areas where future theoretical development in the IPE field is required.