Impact of team composition on student perceptions of interprofessional teamwork: A 6-year cohort study

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Journal of Interprofessional Care


Interprofessional education (IPE) provides students with opportunities to learn about the roles and responsibilities of other professions and develop communication and teamwork skills. As different health professions have recognised the importance of IPE, the number of disciplines participating in IPE events is increasing. Consequently, it is important to examine the effect group structure has on the learning environment and student knowledge acquisition during IPE events. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of group composition on student perceptions of interprofessional teamwork and collaboration when participating in a case-based IPE forum. To examine this construct, six cohorts of students were divided into two groups: Group-one (2010–2012) included students from five professions. Group-two (2013–2015) included students from 10 professions. The only other change for group-two was broadening the case scenarios to ensure a role for each profession. At the conclusion of the case-based IPE forums, both groups demonstrated a statistically significant increase in ‘readiness for interprofessional learning’ and ‘interdisciplinary education perceptions’. However, participants in group-one (2010–2012) demonstrated a greater change in scores when compared to group-two (2013–2015). It was concluded a case-based IPE forum with students from numerous health professions participating in a discussion about broad case scenarios was moderately effective at introducing students to other health professions and increasing their knowledge of others’ identities. However, a smaller grouping of professions with targeted cases was more effective at influencing student perceptions of the need for teamwork. When planning an IPE event, faculty should focus on intentional groupings of professions to reflect the social context of healthcare teams so all students can fully participate and experience shared learning.

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