Interprofessional collaboration: effects of practice-based interventions on professional practice and healthcare outcomes

The extent to which different healthcare professionals work well together can affect the quality of the health care that they provide. If there are problems in how healthcare professionals communicate and interact with each other, then problems in patient care can occur. Interprofessional collaboration (IPC) practice-based interventions are strategies put into place in healthcare settings to improve work interactions and processes between two or more types of healthcare professionals.

In this review, we found five studies that evaluated the effects of practice-based IPC interventions, categorised as interprofessional rounds, interprofessional meetings, and externally facilitated interprofessional audit. Three of these studies found that these interventions led to improvements in patient care, such as drug use, length of hospital stay and total hospital charges. One study showed no impact, and one study showed mixed outcomes.

The studies indicate that practice-based IPC interventions can lead to positive changes in health care, but further studies are needed to have a better understanding of the range of possible interventions and their effectiveness, how they affect interprofessional collaboration and lead to changes in health care, and in what circumstances these interventions may be most useful.

Authors' conclusions: 

In this updated review, we found five studies (four new studies) that met the inclusion criteria. The review suggests that practice-based IPC interventions can improve healthcare processes and outcomes, but due to the limitations in terms of the small number of studies, sample sizes, problems with conceptualising and measuring collaboration, and heterogeneity of interventions and settings, it is difficult to draw generalisable inferences about the key elements of IPC and its effectiveness. More rigorous, cluster randomised studies with an explicit focus on IPC and its measurement, are needed to provide better evidence of the impact of practice-based IPC interventions on professional practice and healthcare outcomes. These studies should include qualitative methods to provide insight into how the interventions affect collaboration and how improved collaboration contributes to changes in outcomes.

Read the full abstract...

Poor interprofessional collaboration (IPC) can negatively affect the delivery of health services and patient care. Interventions that address IPC problems have the potential to improve professional practice and healthcare outcomes.     


To assess the impact of practice-based interventions designed to change IPC, compared to no intervention or to an alternate intervention, on one or more of the following primary outcomes: patient satisfaction and/or the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care provided. Secondary outcomes include the degree of IPC achieved.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group Specialised Register (2000-2007), MEDLINE (1950-2007) and CINAHL (1982-2007). We also handsearched the Journal of Interprofessional Care (1999 to 2007) and reference lists of the five included studies.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials of practice-based IPC interventions that reported changes in objectively-measured or self-reported (by use of a validated instrument) patient/client outcomes and/or health status outcomes and/or healthcare process outcomes and/or measures of IPC.

Data collection and analysis: 

At least two of the three reviewers independently assessed the eligibility of each potentially relevant study. One author extracted data from and assessed risk of bias of included studies, consulting with the other authors when necessary. A meta-analysis of study outcomes was not possible given the small number of included studies and their heterogeneity in relation to clinical settings, interventions and outcome measures. Consequently, we summarised the study data and presented the results in a narrative format.

Main results: 

Five studies met the inclusion criteria; two studies examined interprofessional rounds, two studies examined interprofessional meetings, and one study examined externally facilitated interprofessional audit. One study on daily interdisciplinary rounds in inpatient medical wards at an acute care hospital showed a positive impact on length of stay and total charges, but another study on daily interdisciplinary rounds in a community hospital telemetry ward found no impact on length of stay. Monthly multidisciplinary team meetings improved prescribing of psychotropic drugs in nursing homes. Videoconferencing compared to audioconferencing multidisciplinary case conferences showed mixed results; there was a decreased number of case conferences per patient and shorter length of treatment, but no differences in occasions of service or the length of the conference. There was also no difference between the groups in the number of communications between health professionals recorded in the notes. Multidisciplinary meetings with an external facilitator, who used strategies to encourage collaborative working, was associated with increased audit activity and reported improvements to care.