Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Interprofessional Collaboration: A Survey of Canadian Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Interprofessional Collaboration: A Survey of Canadian Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Article excerpt

A biopsychosocial approach to mental health necessitates the integration of different perspectives into client care and requires that professionals from different disciplines be able and willing to collaborate with one another. The authors conducted an Internet survey of Canadian psychologists (n = 1,040) and psychiatrists (n = 247) about their experiences in collaboration between the two professions. The sample included both autonomous professionals and those in training. The majority of respondents described themselves as being at least moderately familiar with the training and professional activities of the other profession, although a minority reported little or no familiarity. Most autonomous professionals reported that they became familiar with the other profession through consultation around specific cases. Respondents also learned about interprofessional collaboration through formal learning opportunities. However, almost two thirds of trainees who responded to the survey reported that they had no opportunities to put into practice what they had learned about the other profession. Recommendations for increased training opportunities are presented.

Keywords: interprofessional, collaboration, training, consultation

Canada has a substantial unmet need for mental health services. Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey indicate that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or disorder in their lifetime (Health Canada, 2002). Increasing awareness of the extent of mental disorder in Canada has been paralleled by the sobering realisation that many Canadians in need of mental health care do not have access to appropriate professional help, with only one third of those who require mental health services actually receiving them (Canadian Mental Health Association, 201 1; Statistics Canada, 2003). The economic toll of mental disorder in Canada, which includes use of health resources, lower productivity, as well as reductions in health-related quality of life reached $5 1 billion in 2003 (Lim, Jacobs, Ohinmaa, Schopflocher, & Dewa, 2008). Symptoms of mental disorders are often evident early in life. At any given time, almost one in six Canadian children experience a mental disorder that disrupts their functioning in multiple domains; untreated, many symptoms persist into adulthood; however, only 25% of these children in need receive any services (Waddell, Hua, Garland, Peters, & McEwan, 2007).

Globally, there is concern that, within the mental health servicedelivery system, the efforts of different professionals working in the community are fragmented and uncoordinated (World Health Organization, 2009). A biopsychosocial model of mental health necessitates examining mental health concerns from different perspectives, taking into account biological, psychological, and social factors, which may influence an individual's mental health. This integration of different perspectives into client care necessitates that professionals from different disciplines be able and willing to collaborate with one another. The Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Initiative (CCMHI) focused attention on ways to foster links between primary health care and mental health service providers (Gagné, 2005).

Thus, there is every reason to believe that to optimize benefits to the public, mental health service providers must be willing to collaborate with members of other professions and be competent to manage interdisciplinary collaboration. The accreditation of professional programs in psychology requires that students learn to work interprofessionally through the course of their programs (Canadian Psychological Association, 201 1). Furthermore, consultation with other professions is seen as a core competence for professional psychologists (Parent & Begin, 2010). Similarly, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC, 2005) defined collaboration as one of the seven core competencies needed for medical education and practice. …

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