BACKGROUND AND REVIEW CONTEXT: Evidence to support the proposition that learning together will help practitioners and agencies work better together remains limited and thinly spread. This review identified, collated, analysed and synthesised the best available contemporary evidence from 21 of the strongest evaluations of IPE to inform the above proposition. In this way we sought to help shape future interprofessional education and maximize the potential for interprofessional learning to contribute to collaborative practice and better care.
Objectives of the review: To identify and review the strongest evaluations of IPE. To classify the outcomes of IPE and note the influence of context on particular outcomes. To develop a narrative about the mechanisms that underpin and inform positive and negative outcomes of IPE.
Search strategy: Bibliographic database searches as follows: Medline 1966-2003, CINAHL 1982-2001, BEI 1964-2001, ASSIA 1990-2003 which produced 10,495 abstracts. Subsequently, 884 full papers were obtained and scrutinized. In addition, hand searching (2003-5 issues) of 21 journals known to have published two or more higher quality studies from a previous review.
Topic definition and inclusion criteria: Peer-reviewed papers and reports included in the review had to be formal educational initiatives attended by at least two of the many professional groups from health and social care, with the objective of improving care; and learning with, from and about each other.
Data collection, analysis and synthesis: Standard systematic review procedures were applied for sifting abstracts, scrutinizing full papers and abstracting data. Two members of the team checked each abstract to decide whether the full paper should be read. A third member was consulted over any discrepancies. Similarly, each full paper was read by at least two members of the team and agreement sought before passing it to one member of the team (SR) for data abstraction. Other members of the team checked 10% of the abstraction records. Coding into a Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) data base led to collection of different outcome measures used in the primary studies via the common metric of an adapted Kirkpatrick's four-level model of educational outcomes. Additionally, a narrative synthesis was built after analysis of primary data with the 3-P model (presage-process-product) of education development and delivery.
Headline results: Government calls for enhanced collaboration amongst practitioners frequently leads to IPE that is then developed and delivered by educators, practitioners or service managers. Staff development is a key influence on the effectiveness of IPE for learners who all have unique values about themselves and others. Authenticity and customization of IPE are important mechanisms for positive outcomes of IPE. Interprofessional education is generally well received, enabling knowledge and skills necessary for collaborative working to be learnt; it is less able to positively influence attitudes and perceptions towards others in the service delivery team. In the context of quality improvement initiatives interprofessional education is frequently used as a mechanism to enhance the development of practice and improvement of services.