Examining the nature of interprofessional practice: An initial framework validation and creation of the InterProfessional Activity Classification Tool (InterPACT)

Andreas Xyrichis*, Scott Reeves, Merrick Zwarenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
136 Downloads (Pure)


The practice of, and research on interprofessional working in healthcare, commonly referred to as teamwork, has been growing rapidly. This has attracted international policy support flowing from the growing belief that patient safety and quality of care can only be achieved through the collective effort of the multiple professionals caring for a given patient. Despite the increasing policy support, the evidence for effectiveness lags behind: while there are supporting analytic epidemiological studies, few reliable intervention studies have been published and so we have yet to confirm a causal link. We argue that this lag in evidence development may be because interprofessional terms (e.g. teamwork, collaboration) remain conceptually unclear, with no common terminology or definitions, making it difficult to distinguish interventions from each other. In this paper, we examine published studies from the last decade in order to elicit current usage of terms related to interprofessional working; and, in so doing, undertake an initial empirical validation of an existing conceptual framework by mapping its four categories (teamwork, collaboration, coordination and networking) against the descriptions of interprofessional interventions in the included studies. We searched Medline and Embase for papers describing interprofessional interventions using a standard approach. We independently screened papers and classified these under set categories following a thematic approach. Disagreements were resolved through consensus. Twenty papers met our inclusion criteria. Identified interprofessional work interventions fall into a range, from looser to tighter links between members. Definitions are inconsistently and inadequately applied. We found the framework to be a helpful and practical tool for classifying such interventions more consistently. Our analysis enabled us to scrutinise the original dimensions of the framework, confirm their usefulness and consistency, and reveal new sub-categories. We propose a slightly revised typology and a classification tool (InterPACT) for future validation, with four mutually exclusive categories: teamwork, collaboration, coordination and networking. Consistent use, further examination and refinement of the new typology and tool may lead to greater clarity in definition and design of interventions. This should support the development of a reliable and coherent evidence base on interventions to promote interprofessional working in health and social care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2017


  • classification tool
  • collaboration
  • coordination
  • Interprofessional practice
  • networking
  • teamwork
  • validation


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