Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Practitioners' validation of framework of team-oriented practice models in integrative health care: a mixed methods study

Isabelle Gaboury1*, Heather Boon2, Marja Verhoef1, Mathieu Bujold3, Laurent M Lapierre4 and David Moher5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

2 Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3 Faculté des sciences sociales, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

4 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

5 Ottawa Methods Centre, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:289  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-289

Published: 14 October 2010



Biomedical and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) academic and clinical communities have yet to arrive at a common understanding of what Integrative healthcare (IHC) is and how it is practiced. The Models of Team Health Care Practice (MTHP) framework is a conceptual representation of seven possible practice models of health care within which teams of practitioners could elect to practice IHC, from an organizational perspective. The models range from parallel practice at one end to integrative practice at the other end. Models differ theoretically, based on a series of hypotheses. To date, this framework has not been empirically validated. This paper aims to test nine hypotheses in an attempt to validate the MTHP framework.


Secondary analysis of two studies carried out by the same research team was conducted, using a mixed methods approach. Data were collected from both biomedical and CAM practitioners working in Canadian IHC clinics. The secondary analysis is based on 21 participants in the qualitative study and 87 in the quantitative study.


We identified three groups among the initial seven models in the MTHP framework. Differences between practitioners working in different practice models were found chiefly between those who thought that their clinics represented an integrative model, versus those who perceived their clinics to represent a parallel or consultative model. Of the scales used in the analysis, only the process of information sharing varied significantly across all three groups of models.


The MTHP framework should be used with caution to guide the evaluation of the impact of team-oriented practice models on both subjective and objective outcomes of IHC. Groups of models may be more useful, because clinics may not "fit" under a single model when more than one model of collaboration occurs at a single site. The addition of a hypothesis regarding power relationships between practitioners should be considered. Further validation is required so that integrative practice models are well described with appropriate terminology, thus facilitating the work of health care practitioners, managers, policy makers and researchers.