Aim: To investigate characteristics of collaboration between nurse practitioners and medical practitioners in the primary healthcare setting in Australia.
Background: Recent definitions of collaboration in the literature describe it as being based on communication, shared decision-making and the respect and equality of team members. However, research demonstrates a tension between this theoretical ideal and how collaboration between nurse practitioners and medical practitioners occurs in practice. Different socialization processes of the two professions and legislative requirements influence collaborative practice. The way these two professions overcome traditional boundaries and realize collaborative practice in the primary healthcare setting needs to be examined.
Design: Mixed methods multiple case study including up to six sites with a minimum of six and a maximum of 20 participants in total.
Methods: Data on collaborative practice between nurse practitioners and medical practitioners in primary health care will be collected in three phases: (1) two-week direct observation in the practice setting to capture actual behaviour and context; (2) questionnaire to measure dimensions of collaboration; and (3) one-to-one semi-structured interviews with nurse practitioners, medical practitioners and practice managers to record experiences, perceptions and understanding of collaboration.
Discussion: Triangulation of findings will generate a comprehensive understanding of how collaboration between nurse practitioners and medical practitioners in Australia occurs in the primary care setting. The results of this study will inform nurse practitioners, medical practitioners practice managers and policy makers on successful models of collaboration.
Keywords: collaboration; collaborative behaviour; collaborative practice; cooperative behaviour; interdisciplinary care; nurse practitioner; primary health care.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.