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PLoS One. 2014 May 8;9(5):e96724. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096724. eCollection 2014.

Interprofessional education for whom? --challenges and lessons learned from its implementation in developed countries and their application to developing countries: a systematic review.

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Department of Community and Global Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.



Evidence is available on the potential efficacy of interprofessional education (IPE) to foster interprofessional cooperation, improve professional satisfaction, and improve patient care. While the intention of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to implement IPE in all countries, evidence comes from developed countries about its efficiency, challenges, and barriers to planning and implementing IPE. We therefore conducted this review to examine challenges of implementing IPE to suggest possible pathways to overcome the anticipated challenges in developing countries.


We searched for literatures on IPE in PubMed/MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and ERIC databases. We examined challenges or barriers and initiatives to overcome them so as to suggest methods to solve the anticipated challenges in developing countries. We could not conduct a meta-analysis because of the qualitative nature of the research question and the data; instead we conducted a meta-narrative of evidence.


A total of 40 out of 2,146 articles were eligible for analyses in the current review. Only two articles were available from developing countries. Despite the known benefits of IPE, a total of ten challenges or barriers were common based on the retrieved evidence. They included curriculum, leadership, resources, stereotypes and attitudes, variety of students, IPE concept, teaching, enthusiasm, professional jargons, and accreditation. Out of ten, three had already been reported in developing countries: IPE curriculum, resource limitations, and stereotypes.


This study found ten important challenges on implementing IPE. They are curriculum, leadership, resources, stereotypes, students' diversity, IPE concept, teaching, enthusiasm, professional jargons, and accreditation. Although only three of them are already experienced in developing countries, the remaining seven are potentially important for developing countries, too. By knowing these challenges and barriers in advance, those who implement IPE programs in developing countries will be much more prepared, and can enhance the program's potential success.

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