Open Access Study protocol

An action research protocol to strengthen system-wide inter-professional learning and practice [LP0775514]

Jeffrey Braithwaite12*, Johanna I Westbrook3, A Ruth Foxwell4, Rosalie Boyce5, Timothy Devinney6, Marc Budge7, Karen Murphy8, Mary-Ann Ryall9, Jenny Beutel10, Rebecca Vanderheide11, Elizabeth Renton12, Joanne Travaglia12, Judy Stone8, Amanda Barnard7, David Greenfield12, Angus Corbett13, Peter Nugus12 and Robyn Clay-Williams12

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Clinical Governance Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, 10 Arthur St, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia

2 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Samuels Building, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia

3 Health Informatics Research & Evaluation Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, 75 East St Lidcombe, NSW 1825, Australia

4 University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

5 School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

6 Australian Graduate School of Management, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia

7 ANU Medical School, The Australian National University, C/- The Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, ACT 2606, Australia

8 ACT Health, Allied Health Adviser's Office, Level 2, 11 Moore Street, Canberra City, ACT, Australia

9 ACT Health, c/- 11 Moore St Canberra City, ACT, Australia

10 Department of Health, CitiCentre Building, 11 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide South Australia, 5000, Australia

11 School of Health Sciences – Nursing, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

12 The Canberra Hospital, PO Box 11, ACT 2606, Australia

13 Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2007, 7:144  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-144

Published: 13 September 2007



Inter-professional learning (IPL) and inter-professional practice (IPP) are thought to be critical determinants of effective care, improved quality and safety and enhanced provider morale, yet few empirical studies have demonstrated this. Whole-of-system research is even less prevalent. We aim to provide a four year, multi-method, multi-collaborator action research program of IPL and IPP in defined, bounded health and education systems located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The project is funded by the Australian Research Council under its industry Linkage Program.


The program of research will examine in four inter-related, prospective studies, progress with IPL and IPP across tertiary education providers, professional education, regulatory and registration bodies, the ACT health system's streams of care activities and teams, units and wards of the provider facilities of the ACT health system. One key focus will be on push-pull mechanisms, ie, how the education sector creates student-enabled IPP and the health sector demands IPL-oriented practitioners. The studies will examine four research aims and meet 20 research project objectives in a comprehensive evaluation of ongoing progress with IPL and IPP.


IPP and IPL are said to be cornerstones of health system reforms. We will measure progress across an entire health system and the clinical and professional education systems that feed into it. The value of multi-methods, partnership research and a bi-directional push-pull model of IPL and IPP will be tested. Widespread dissemination of results to practitioners, policymakers, managers and researchers will be a key project goal.