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Clin Invest Med. 2007;30(6):E224-32.

Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 2. Promotors, barriers, and strategies of enhancement.

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Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teams are increasingly encouraged in health research, services, education and policy. This paper is the second in a series. The first discussed the definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness of multiple disciplinary teamwork. This paper continues to examine the promotors, barriers, and ways to enhance such teamwork.


The paper is a literature review based on Google and MEDLINE (1982-2007) searches. "Multidisciplinarity", "interdisciplinarity", "transdisciplinarity" and "definition" were used as keywords to identify the pertinent literature.


The promotors of teamwork success include: good selection of team members, good team leaders, maturity and flexibility of team members, personal commitment, physical proximity of team members, the Internet and email as a supporting platform, incentives, institutional support and changes in the workplace, a common goal and shared vision, clarity and rotation of roles, communication, and constructive comments among team members. The barriers, in general, reflect the situation in which the promotors are lacking. They include: poor selection of the disciplines and team members, poor process of team functioning, lack of proper measures to evaluate success of interdisciplinary work, lack of guidelines for multiple authorship in research publications, language problems, insufficient time or funding for the project, institutional constraints, discipline conflicts, team conflicts, lack of communication between disciplines, and unequal power among disciplines.


Not every health project needs to involve multiple disciplines. Several questions can help in deciding whether a multiple disciplinary approach is required. If multiple disciplinarity is called for, eight strategies to enhance multiple disciplinary teamwork are proposed. They can be summarised in the acronym TEAMWORK - Team, Enthusiasm, Accessibility, Motivation, Workplace, Objectives, Role, Kinship.

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