A comparative study of interprofessional education in global health care: A systematic review

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners identify interprofessional (IP) collaboration in education and practice as an innovative strategy that plays an important role in mitigating the global health workforce crisis. Evidence on the practice of global health level in interprofessional education (IPE) is scarce and hampered due to the absence of aggregate information. Therefore, this systematic review was conducted to examine the incidences of IPE and summarize the main features about the IPE programs in undergraduate and postgraduate education in developed and developing countries.


The PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Google Scholar were searched from their inception to January 31, 2016 for relevant studies regarding the development of IPE worldwide, IPE undergraduate and postgraduate programs, IP interaction in health education, IPE content, clinical placements, and teaching methods. Countries in which a study was conducted were classified as developed and developing countries according to the definition by the United Nations (UN) in 2014.


A total of 65 studies from 41 countries met our inclusion criteria, including 45 studies from 25 developed countries and 20 studies from 16 developing countries. Compared with developing countries, developed countries had more IPE initiatives. IPE programs were mostly at the undergraduate level. Overall, the university was the most common academic institution that provided IPE programs. The contents of the curricula were mainly designed to provide IP knowledge, skills, and values that aimed at developing IP competencies. IPE clinical placements were typically based in hospitals, community settings, or both. The didactic and interactive teaching methods varied significantly within and across universities where they conducted IPE programs. Among all health care disciplines, nursing was the discipline that conducted most of the IPE programs.


This systematic review illustrated that the IPE programs vary substantially across countries. Many countries, especially the academic institutions are benefiting from the implementation of IPE programs. There is a need to strengthen health education policies at global level aiming at initiating IPE programs in relevant institutions.

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