Interprofessional collaboration in primary health care: a review of facilitators and barriers perceived by involved actors

J Public Health (Oxf). 2015 Dec;37(4):716-27. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdu102. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


Background: The epidemiological transition calls for redefining the roles of the various professionals involved in primary health care towards greater collaboration. We aimed to identify facilitators of, and barriers to, interprofessional collaboration in primary health care as perceived by the actors involved, other than nurses.

Methods: Systematic review using synthetic thematic analysis of qualitative research. Articles were retrieved from Medline, Web of science, Psychinfo and The Cochrane library up to July 2013. Quality and relevance of the studies were assessed according to the Dixon-Woods criteria. The following stakeholders were targeted: general practitioners, pharmacists, mental health workers, midwives, physiotherapists, social workers and receptionists.

Results: Forty-four articles were included. The principal facilitator of interprofessional collaboration in primary care was the different actors' common interest in collaboration, perceiving opportunities to improve quality of care and to develop new professional fields. The main barriers were the challenges of definition and awareness of one another's roles and competences, shared information, confidentiality and responsibility, team building and interprofessional training, long-term funding and joint monitoring.

Conclusions: Interprofessional organization and training based on appropriate models should support collaboration development. The active participation of the patient is required to go beyond professional boundaries and hierarchies. Multidisciplinary research projects are recommended.

Keywords: cooperative behaviour; interprofessional relations; patient care team; primary health care/organization and administration; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Patients / psychology
  • Primary Health Care*