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J Interprof Care. 2009 Jan;23(1):16-29. doi: 10.1080/13561820802491006.

Towards healthy professional-client relationships: the value of an interprofessional training course.

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  • 1Spinal Injuries Unit, Queensland Spinal Cord Injury Service, Brisbane, Australia. patricia_fronek@health.qld.gov.au

Abstract

Boundary violations that threaten professional-client relationships are rarely discussed at the coalface. There is an assumption that healthcare practitioners have the skills necessary to manage professional boundary dilemmas with clients. The issue, if addressed, is usually confined to discipline specific education and training. A one-day Professional Boundaries for Health Professionals (PBHP) training program was developed in response to real life practice dilemmas experienced by health practitioners across the continuum of care. The program was delivered to 109 participants throughout the state of Queensland, Australia, from government and non-government organizations. Participants were doctors, nurses, allied health (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, dietitians, speech therapists), therapy assistants and personal care staff from a diverse range of hospital and community settings. Evaluations of PBHP suggest that the interprofessional learning context was valued with specific advantages identified in the use of adult learning approaches, the teaching of ethical decision making principles, the value of supervision and peer support and the opportunities provided for critical reflection. The effectiveness of training for healthcare practitioners in this area is discussed as a meaningful way of developing skills and engendering collaborative relationships between professional (e.g., occupational therapist, social worker) and paraprofessional (e.g., therapy assistant, personal care worker) groups. A combination of intensive training in professional boundaries and opportunities for ongoing professional development are important for all health practitioners.

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