Despite a burgeoning interest in using interprofessional approaches to promote effective collaboration in health care, systematic reviews find scant evidence of benefit. This protocol describes the first cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to design and evaluate an intervention intended to improve interprofessional collaborative communication and patient-centred care.
The objective is to evaluate the effects of a four-component, hospital-based staff communication protocol designed to promote collaborative communication between healthcare professionals and enhance patient-centred care.
The study is a multi-centre mixed-methods cluster randomized controlled trial involving twenty clinical teaching teams (CTTs) in general internal medicine (GIM) divisions of five Toronto tertiary-care hospitals. CTTs will be randomly assigned either to receive an intervention designed to improve interprofessional collaborative communication, or to continue usual communication practices.
Non-participant naturalistic observation, shadowing, and semi-structured, qualitative interviews were conducted to explore existing patterns of interprofessional collaboration in the CTTs, and to support intervention development. Interviews and shadowing will continue during intervention delivery in order to document interactions between the intervention settings and adopters, and changes in interprofessional communication.
The primary outcome is the rate of unplanned hospital readmission. Secondary outcomes are length of stay (LOS); adherence to evidence-based prescription drug therapy; patients' satisfaction with care; self-report surveys of CTT staff perceptions of interprofessional collaboration; and frequency of calls to paging devices. Outcomes will be compared on an intention-to-treat basis using adjustment methods appropriate for data from a cluster randomized design.
Pre-intervention qualitative analysis revealed that a substantial amount of interprofessional interaction lacks key core elements of collaborative communication such as self-introduction, description of professional role, and solicitation of other professional perspectives. Incorporating these findings, a four-component intervention was designed with a goal of creating a culture of communication in which the fundamentals of collaboration become a routine part of interprofessional interactions during unstructured work periods on GIM wards.
Registered with National Institutes of Health as NCT00466297.