How health professionals conceive and construct interprofessional practice in rural settings

a qualitative study

Vicki Parker, Karen McNeil, Isabel Higgins, Rebecca Mitchell, Penelope Paliadelis, Michelle Giles, Glenda Parmenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Background - Although interprofessional practice (IPP) offers the potential to enhance rural health services and provide support to rural clinicians, IPP may itself be problematic due to workforce limitations and service fragmentation. Differing socioeconomic and geographic characteristics of rural communities means that the way that IPP occurs in rural contexts will necessarily differ from that occurring in metropolitan contexts. The aim of this study was to investigate the factors contributing to effective IPP in rural contexts, to examine how IPP happens and to identify barriers and enablers.
Methods - Using Realistic Evaluation as a framework, semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals in a range of rural healthcare contexts in NSW, Australia. Independent thematic analysis was undertaken by individual research team members, which was then integrated through consensus to achieve a qualitative description of rural IPP practice.
Results - There was clear evidence of diversity and complexity associated with IPP in the rural settings that was supported by descriptions of collaborative integrated practice. There were instances where IPP doesn’t and could happen. There were a number of characteristics identified that significantly impacted on IPP including the presence of a shared philosophical position and valuing of IPP and recognition of the benefits, funding to support IPP, pivotal roles, proximity and workforce resources.
Conclusions - The nature of IPP in rural contexts is diverse and determined by a number of critical factors. This study goes some of the way towards unravelling the complexity of IPP in rural contexts, highlighting the strong motivating factors that drive IPP. However, it has also identified significant structural and relational barriers related to workload, workforce, entrenched hierarchies and ways of working and service fragmentation. Further research is required to explicate the mechanisms that drive successful IPP across a range of diverse rural contexts in order to inform the implementation of robust flexible strategies that will support sustainable models of rural IPP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number500
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2013 Parker et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Interprofessional practice
  • Rural contexts
  • Qualitative methods
  • Health professionals

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'How health professionals conceive and construct interprofessional practice in rural settings: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this