Answer to "What is the evidence that IPE is effective?"


This is a question posed frequently to faculty advocating for the introduction of IPE within health professional education curricula.  The question tends to focus on whether there is evidence that IPE improves patient outcomes or health service delivery.  This is usually not a question that health professional educators involved in pre-qualification/pre-licensure education have to answer.  In most areas of education, the question tends to be whether the intervention is effective at facilitating learning: does it enhance knowledge, change attitudes or behaviour.  The question about patient outcomes is more pertinent at the postgraduate and continuing professional development (CPD) end of the health professional education continuum.  There is a growing body of evidence that IPE is effective for achieving interprofessional competencies and post-qualification/post-licensure is effective in certain areas of patient care. 

In summary:

IPE may lead to positive learner-focussed outcomes including:

  • High student satisfaction and

  • Improved attitudes towards other health professionals and teamwork

  • Enhanced knowledge and skills related to teamwork and collaborative practice

  • Positive changes in organisational practice

  • Changes in patient care delivery and clinical outcomes

Limitations of the evidence

  • Lack of longer term follow-up

  • Most studies undertaken at single site



BRANDT, B., LUFTIYA, M.N, KING, J.A., and CHIORESCO, C. (2014). A scoping review of interprofessional collaborative practice and education using the lens of the triple aim. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 28(5), 393–399.

From the National Center of Interprofessional Practice and Education focussing on evidence for IPE meeting the triple aim outcomes of: improving patients’ experience of care, improving population health, reducing costs.

REEVES, S., FLETCHER, S., BARR, H., BIRCH, I., BOET, S., DAVIES, N. et al. (2016). A BEME systematic review of the effects of interprofessional education.  BEME Guide No 39.  Medical Teacher, 28, 656-658.

REEVES, S., PALAGANAS, J., and ZIERLER, B. (2015). Appendix B. Synthesis of interprofessional education (IPE) reviews.  In: NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS. Measuring the impact of interprofessional education on collaborative practice and patient outcomes.  Available at:

This paper includes a list and synthesis of previous systematic and narrative reviews, with a total of 407 individual papers.

REEVES, S., PERRIER, L., GOLDMAN, J., FREETH, D., and ZWARENSTEIN, M. (2013). Interprofessional education: Effects on professional practice and healthcare outcomes (update) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3(CD002213)