The positive impact of interprofessional education: a controlled trial to evaluate a programme for health professional students

Collaborative interprofessional practice is an important means of providing effective care to people with complex health problems. Interprofessional education (IPE) is assumed to enhance interprofessional practice despite challenges to demonstrate its efficacy. This study evaluated whether an IPE programme changed students’ attitudes to interprofessional teams and interprofessional learning, students’ self-reported effectiveness as a team member, and students’ perceived ability to manage long-term conditions.  A prospective controlled trial evaluated an eleven-hour IPE programme focused on long-term conditions’ management. Pre-registration students from the disciplines of dietetics, medicine, physiotherapy, and radiation therapy were allocated to either an intervention group who received the IPE program or a control group who continued with their usual discipline specific curriculum.  Mean post-intervention attitude scores (all on a five-point scale) were significantly higher in the intervention group than the control group for all scales. The mean effect of the intervention was similar for students from the two larger disciplinary sub-groups of medicine and radiation therapy.

The authors concluded that an eleven-hour IPE programme resulted in improved attitudes towards interprofessional teams and interprofessional learning, as well as self-reported ability to function within an interprofessional team, and self-reported confidence, knowledge, and ability to manage people with long-term conditions. These findings indicate that a brief intervention such as this can have immediate positive effects and contribute to the development of health professionals who are ready to collaborate with others to improve patient outcomes.