Allied health perceptions of informal interprofessional interactions in the workplace: A qualitative survey study

Dr Olivia King1,2,3, Ms Nicole  Shaw1,4

1University Hospital Geelong, Geelong, Australia, 2South West Healthcare, Warrnambool, Australia, 3Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education, Clayton, Australia, 4Deakin University , Geelong, Australia

Background: Informal interprofessional workplace interactions are gaining the interest of health services and health professions education researchers. Some of the established benefits of these interactions include safer service provision, enhanced team communication and optimal research translation. Most of the existing evidence pertains to the medical and nursing professions, with little known about how allied health professionals (AHPs) perceive informal interprofessional workplace interactions.

Method: We conducted a survey at a large Australian health service, comprising closed and open-ended questions to explore AHPs’ experiences and perceptions of informal interprofessional interactions. Sixty-four AHPs participated. Close-ended data were analysed descriptively; open text responses were analysed thematically using a framework approach informed by sociological theory.

Results: Participants’ experiences of informal interprofessional interactions during lunchtime varied in accordance with their work setting, with community health-situated participants reporting informal interprofessional interactions more frequently, than those in acute settings.

Participants articulated a range of benefits associated with these interactions and were aligned with three themes: team and organisation level, clinician level and service-user benefits. Perceived challenges to, and enablers of these interactions were coded to five themes: socio-cultural practices, physical environmental, timing-related factors, individual and organisational factors. Participant recommendations to increase AHPs’ opportunities for informal interprofessional workplace interactions reflected three of these themes: socio-cultural practices, physical environment, and organisational factors.

Implications: To realise the benefits of informal interprofessional interactions, action is needed to address the challenging factors identified. Through a co-design approach with managers and AHPs, the findings of the research are being translated into practice.


Olivia King is an Allied Health Research and Translation Co-Lead at Barwon Health and South West Healthcare (with Dr Rosalie Boyce). She also holds an Adjunct Research Associate position with the Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education (MCSHE). She is a qualified podiatrist and credentialled diabetes educator. She completed her PhD in 2018, which explored the role boundaries and scopes of practice in diabetes education, a postprofessional area of clinical practice. Olivia is passionate about developing research capacity in the health sector. She has primarily undertaken qualitative research and her research interests include, interprofessional role boundaries, sociology of the professions and health professions education.

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