Effect of the Health Mentors Program on Student Attitudes toward Team Care

By Giordano, Carolyn; Arenson, Christine et al. | Journal of Allied Health, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Effect of the Health Mentors Program on Student Attitudes toward Team Care


Giordano, Carolyn, Arenson, Christine, Lyons, Kevin J., Collins, Lauren, Umland, Elena, Smith, Kellie, Antony, Reena, Rose, Molly, Journal of Allied Health


Based on a growing body of literature documenting improved cost and quality outcomes related to good team care, interprofessional education (IPE) has been widely endorsed as critical to preparing the future healthcare workforce. This study evaluated the effect of a longitudinal team-based 2-year IPE curriculum on attitudes toward health care teams. Analyses included comparison of baseline measures to the end of the 2-year curriculum of each of the six participating disciplines (medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, and couple and family therapy). Differences between the disciplines were also analyzed. A significant improvement on a14-item quality of care and teamwork of health professionals subscale of the Attitudes Toward Health Care Teams scale was found. Students surveyed in each of the six disciplines demonstrated significant improvements in attitudes toward quality of care and teamwork from the baseline measure at the beginning of the IPE program to the end of the 2-year program. There were no significant differences noted between disciplines. Assessment of attitudes toward health care teams assisted in evaluation and ongoing quality improvement of the IPE program and could potentially be used in other interprofessional programs that focus on health care teamwork. Next steps include longitudinal assessment of students throughout their programs and into practice to explore the sustainability of attitudes and behaviors, as well as impact on patient outcomes. J Allied Health 2013; 42(2):120-124.

INTERPROFESSIONAL EDUCATION (IPE) has been widely endorsed as critical to preparing the future healthcare workforce, based on a growing body of literature documenting the importance of team-based, collaborative healthcare related to an aging population and increases in chronic care delivery and its influence on patient safety.1-6 Student attitudes toward IPE have been measured in a variety of settings. Attitudes are generally positive and show little change after an IPE experience. Attitudes toward team care may be a more sensitive interim measure of IPE efficacy.7 Despite the fairly extensive literature describing the development and delivery of IPE, Thistlethwaite8 has noted that most evaluation measures (if mentioned) are student reaction or satisfaction with the session, with few studies reporting changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a longitudinal team-based IPE curriculum on attitudes toward health care teams. Analyses included comparison of baseline measures to the end of the two-year curriculum of each of the six participating disciplines (medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, and couple and family therapy). Differences between the disciplines were also analyzed.

The Lancet Commission,9 a worldwide commission of professional and academic leaders, recently explored the increased focus on collaborative practice, highlighting the necessity for team-based care/team-based learning and advocating for IPE as part of a continuum of training for health professionals. The Lancet Commission addressed the traditional nature of professional silos when describing health care education. However, there is a growing trend among discipline-specific accreditation bodies toward including interprofessional collaboration and teamwork in their objectives and aims. For example, The American Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) added IPE as a focus of empha- sis to their accreditation standards.10 The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) added "interprofessional communication and collaboration for improving patient outcomes" to The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice document that guides their student learning accreditation standard.11 Additionally, a recent joint accreditation initiative by three continuing education accrediting bodies-The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)-has begun to award joint accreditation to groups who offer team-focused education that improves patient care. …

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