The conceptual basis for interprofessional collaboration: core concepts and theoretical frameworks

J Interprof Care. 2005 May:19 Suppl 1:116-31. doi: 10.1080/13561820500082529.


Interprofessional collaboration is a key factor in initiatives designed to increase the effectiveness of health services currently offered to the public. It is important that the concept of collaboration be well understood, because although the increasingly complex health problems faced by health professionals are creating more interdependencies among them, we still have limited knowledge of the complexity of interprofessional relationships. The goal of this literature review was to identify conceptual frameworks that could improve our understanding of this important aspect of health organizations. To this end, we have identified and taken into consideration: (A) the various definitions proposed in the literature and the various concepts associated with collaboration, and (B) the various theoretical frameworks of collaboration. Our results demonstrate that: (1) the concept of collaboration is commonly defined through five underlying concepts: sharing, partnership, power, interdependency and process; (2) the most complete models of collaboration seem to be those based on a strong theoretical background, either in organizational theory or in organizational sociology and on empirical data; (3) there is a significant amount of diversity in the way the various authors conceptualized collaboration and in the factors influencing collaboration; (4) these frameworks do not establish clear links between the elements in the models and the outputs; and (5) the literature does not provide a serious attempt to determine how patients could be integrated into the health care team, despite the fact that patients are recognized as the ultimate justification for providing collaborative care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Patient-Centered Care