Is interprofessional identity the missing link in interprofessional collaborative practice?

Ms Angela Wood1,2, A/Prof Jodie Copley2, A/Prof Anne Hill2, A/Prof Neil  Cottrell2

1Metro South Health , Brisbane, Australia , 2The University of Queensland , Brisbane, Australia

Contemporary healthcare requires various professionals to work collaboratively to provide optimal care for increasingly complex patients.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised interprofessional education and collaborative practice (IPECP) as an important strategy to strengthen healthcare and optimise health outcomes.  While generally supported in the literature, IPECP does not always occur in practice.

Identity is fundamental to health professionals given it encompasses who an individual perceives themselves to be, and who others perceive them to be, which drives attitudes, behaviours, values and beliefs. Healthcare identities are particularly complex given the centrality of professional identity, and negotiation of multiple, sometimes conflicting identities.  While there has been extensive work on IPECP competency development over the past decade, less research has investigated interprofessional (IP) identity.

A scoping review was conducted to answer the research question ‘what is known about the nature of IP identity in healthcare professionals’? Following a search of seven electronic databases and additional hand searching, 1746 articles were retrieved.  Application of inclusion and exclusion criteria reduced articles for title and abstract screening to 338, and full text screening yielded 95 articles for data charting.

Results indicated the number of papers in the healthcare identity field has doubled in the past 5 years, though papers primarily addressed professional identity in an interprofessional context.  Four papers focussed specifically on IP identity, and three of these reported development of IP identity measurement tools.  Key themes included social identity theory and the influence of socialisation and context (setting, organisational culture, transitions) on IP identity.  Given identity impacts behaviour, IP identity conversations are imperative in developing IPECP.  IP identity may be the missing link for successful IPECP, and may be integral to achieve the health and education reform we need to support best patient outcomes.  Further results and future research recommendations will be discussed.


Angela Wood is currently an Advanced Health Practitioner at Princess Alexandra Hospital.  With a background in Occupational Therapy, she leads allied health workforce development, supporting the capability and capacity of the allied health staff.  Angela has over 20 years’ experience in clinical, management, education and project roles across Queensland Health, the NHS, private and not for profit organisations. She is passionate about strengthening teamwork, and is currently a PhD candidate exploring interprofessional collaborative practice at The University of Queensland.   Angela has researched and published in the area of teamwork, including the role of the support workforce.

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