Interprofessional team-based learning in basic sciences: students' attitude and perception of communication and teamwork

Int J Med Educ. 2020 Sep 29;11:214-221. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5f5b.24e3.


Objectives: To explore whether a team-based learning strategy applied to an interprofessional course on basic science changes students' perception of communication and teamwork skills and attitudes as related to interprofessional learning.

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was utilized. The participants were selected through an opportunity sample of 33 first-semester anatomy students from occupational therapy and orthoptics programs. Students completed an interprofessional questionnaire before and after the course. The data were analyzed descriptively. Fourteen students were selected randomly for group interviews. Qualitative data was interpreted using thematic analyses.

Results: The pre-test scores for 'communication and teamwork skills' and 'interprofessional learning' were high with mean values of 26.58 and 34.24, respectively. The post-test scores were 27.30 and 34.27, respectively, indicating no relevant changes in students' perception and attitudes. Qualitative data suggested that team-based learning represents a valid strategy to encourage communication and teamwork skills but revealed a lack of interprofessional exchange during the course. Students reported that classroom activities must require the professional knowledge of all participating groups in order to prevent a negative attitudinal shift towards interprofessional education in the later years of their studies.

Conclusions: Implementing team-based learning in basic sciences can encourage communication and teamwork among students. Mixed classes can help socialize students of different professional groups, although they carry a risk of a negative attitudinal shift towards interprofessional education. Whether, and in what ways, effective interprofessional exchange during the teaching of basic sciences can be achieved needs further investigation.

Keywords: anatomy education; basic sciences; interprofessional learning; medical education; team-based learning.