Attitudes towards Interprofessional education in the medical curriculum: a systematic review of the literature

BMC Med Educ. 2020 Aug 6;20(1):254. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02176-4.


Background: There is agreement among educators and professional bodies that interprofessional education needs to be implemented at the pre-registration level. We performed a systematic review assessing interprofessional learning interventions, measuring attitudes towards interprofessional education and involving pre-registration medical students across all years of medical education.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using PubMed, PsycINFO, EThOS, EMBASE, PEDro and SCOPUS. Search terms were composed of interprofession*, interprofessional education, inter professional, inter professionally, IPE, and medical student. Inclusion criteria were 1) the use of a validated scale for assessment of attitudes towards IPE, and results for more than 35 medical students; 2) peer-reviewed articles in English and German, including medical students; and 3) results for IPE interventions published after the 2011 Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) report. We identified and screened 3995 articles. After elimination of duplicates or non-relevant topics, 278 articles remained as potentially relevant for full text assessment. We used a data extraction form including study designs, training methods, participant data, assessment measures, results, and medical year of participants for each study. A planned comprehensive meta-analysis was not possible.

Results: This systematic review included 23 articles with a pre-test-post-test design. Interventions varied in their type and topic. Duration of interventions varied from 25 min to 6 months, and interprofessional groups ranged from 2 to 25 students. Nine studies (39%) reported data from first-year medical students, five (22%) from second-year students, six (26%) from third-year students, two (9%) from fourth-year students and one (4%) from sixth-year students. There were no studies including fifth-year students. The most frequently used assessment method was the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) (n = 6, 26%). About half of study outcomes showed a significant increase in positive attitudes towards interprofessional education after interventions across all medical years.

Conclusions: This systematic review showed some evidence of a post-intervention change of attitudes towards IPE across different medical years studied. IPE was successfully introduced both in pre-clinical and clinical years of the medical curriculum. With respect to changes in attitudes to IPE, we could not demonstrate a difference between interventions delivered in early and later years of the curriculum.

Trial registration: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020160964 .

Keywords: Attitudes; IPE; Interprofessional education; Medical curriculum; Medical education; Medical student; Pre-registration.