Objective: The objective of this systematic review was to identify the best available evidence for the effectiveness of university-based interprofessional education for health students.
Background: Currently, most health professional education is delivered in a traditional, discipline specific way. This approach is limited in its ability to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes for effective interprofessional collaboration and for working as part of a complex health care team. Interprofessional education is widely seen as a way to improve communication between health professionals, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.
Inclusion criteria: The review included all randomised controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies in which two or more undergraduate or post-graduate health professional groups are engaged in interprofessional education.
Review methods: A three-stage comprehensive search of ten electronic databases as well as grey literature was conducted. Two independent reviewers assessed each paper prior to inclusion using the standardised critical appraisal instruments for evidence of effectiveness developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Results: Nine published studies consisting of three randomised controlled trials, five controlled before and after studies and one controlled longitudinal study were included in the review.
Conclusion: Student's attitudes and perceptions towards interprofessional collaboration and clinical decision-making can be potentially enhanced through interprofessional education. However, the evidence for using interprofessional education to teach communication skills and clinical skills is inconclusive and requires further investigation.
Implications for research: Future randomised controlled studies explicitly focused on interprofessional education with rigorous randomisation procedures, allocation concealment, larger sample sizes, and control groups, would improve the evidence base for interprofessional education.
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