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From parallel practice to integrative health care: a conceptual framework

Heather Boon1*, Marja Verhoef2, Dennis O'Hara3 and Barb Findlay4

Author affiliations

1 Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, 19 Russell Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 2S2, Canada

2 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1, Canada

3 Faculty of Theology, University of St. Michael's College, 81 St. Mary Street Toronto, ON, M5S 1J4, Canada

4 School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, T201-2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2004, 4:15  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-4-15

Published: 1 July 2004



"Integrative health care" has become a common term to describe teams of health care providers working together to provide patient care. However this term has not been well-defined and likely means many different things to different people. The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework for describing, comparing and evaluating different forms of team-oriented health care practices that have evolved in Western health care systems.


Seven different models of team-oriented health care practice are illustrated in this paper: parallel, consultative, collaborative, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and integrative. Each of these models occupies a position along the proposed continuum from the non-integrative to fully integrative approach they take to patient care. The framework is developed around four key components of integrative health care practice: philosophy/values; structure, process and outcomes.


This framework can be used by patients and health care practitioners to determine what styles of practice meet their needs and by policy makers, healthcare managers and researchers to document the evolution of team practices over time. This framework may also facilitate exploration of the relationship between different practice models and health outcomes.