Interdisciplinary didactic instruction at academic health centers in the United States: attitudes and barriers

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2002;7(3):179-90. doi: 10.1023/a:1021144215376.


Interdisciplinary care is a method of providing patient care through a team approach that incorporates the efforts of various health care providers. Studies show that this approach can improve patient care and decrease overall costs to the healthcare system. Despite the evidence for the benefits of interdisciplinary care, there are no well-defined models for training students during their didactic years to become members of an interdisciplinary team. This study utilized an investigator-developed questionnaire to determine the attitudes of administrators of professional schools in the USA toward interdisciplinary education, identified the perceived barriers to interdisciplinary education, examined the extent to which interdisciplinary education is occurring at academic health center campuses, and identified the courses that might best be taught in an interdisciplinary format. Administrators from medicine, nursing, and pharmacy hold positive attitudes toward interdisciplinary instruction. Respondents from nursing and pharmacy hold more favorable attitudes than their counterparts from medicine. Positive attitudes are seen more frequently among females than males, and among respondents from public single and multi-campuses than from private campuses. This study demonstrated that administrators espouse very positive attitudes toward interdisciplinary education, although they perceive the barriers to interdisciplinary education and the courses most suited for an interdisciplinary approach differently. More discussions among administrators of various disciplines may allow barriers to be overcome and allow development of interdisciplinary didactic courses that could test the hypothesis that these courses are more cost effective and more likely to foster interdisciplinary teamwork in the clinical setting.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Administrative Personnel / psychology*
  • Administrative Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Educational
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States