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BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Sep 2;16:465. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1720-z.

Impact of interprofessional education about psychological and medical comorbidities on practitioners' knowledge and collaborative practice: mixed method evaluation of a national program.

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Social Foundations of Medicine, Medical School, Australian National University, 54 Mills St, Canberra, 0200, Australia.
Rural Clinical School, Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.



Many patients with chronic physical illnesses have co-morbid psychological illnesses, which may respond to interprofessional collaborative care. Continuing education programs frequently focus on skills and knowledge relevant for individual illnesses, and unidisciplinary care. This study evaluates the impact of "Mind the Gap", an Australian interprofessional continuing education program about management of dual illnesses, on practitioners' knowledge, use of psychological strategies and collaborative practice.


A 6-h module addressing knowledge and skills needed for patients with physical and psychological co-morbid illnesses was delivered to 837 practitioners from mixed health professional backgrounds, through locally-facilitated workshops at 45 Australian sites. We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation, incorporating observation, surveys and network analysis using data collected, before, immediately after, and three months after training.


Six hundred forty-five participants enrolled in the evaluation (58 % GPs, 17 % nurses, 15 % mental health professionals, response rate 76 %). Participants' knowledge and confidence to manage patients with psychological and physical illnesses improved immediately. Among the subset surveyed at three months (response rate 24 %), referral networks had increased across seven disciplines, improvements in confidence and knowledge were sustained, and doctors, but no other disciplines, reported an increase in use of motivational interviewing (85.9 % to 96.8 %) and mindfulness (58.6 % to 74 %).


Interprofessional workshops had an immediate impact on the stated knowledge and confidence of participants to manage patients with physical and psychological comorbidities, which appears to have been sustained. For some attendees, there was a sustained improvement in the size of their referral networks and their use of some psychological strategies.


Chronic disease; Continuing education; Interprofessional education; Mental health; Team

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