Interprofessional education in primary care for the elderly: a pilot study

Barth Oeseburg, Rudi Hilberts, Truus A. Luten, Antoinette V.M. van Etten, J.P. Slaets, Petrie Roodbol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The Dutch health care system faces huge challenges with regard to the demand on elderly care and the competencies of nurses and physicians required to meet this demand. At present, the main focus of health care in the Netherlands lies on illness and treatment. However, (frail) elderly
need care and support that takes their daily functioning and well-being into consideration as well. Therefore, health care professionals, especially those professionals working in primary care such as GPs and practice nurses, will be
challenged to a paradigm shift in emphasis from treating illness to promoting health (healthy ageing). Interprofessional education is necessary to realise this shift in professional behaviour. Evidence indicates that interprofessional
education (IPE) can play a pivotal role in enhancing the competencies of professionals in order to provide elderly care that is both effectively, integrated and well-coordinated. At present, however, IPE in primary care is rarely
utilised in the Netherlands. Therefore, the aim of this pilot study was to develop an IPE program for GPs and practice nurses and to evaluate the feasibility of an IPE program for professionals with different educational backgrounds and its effect on the division of professionals’ tasks and responsibilities.
Methods: Ten GPs and 10 practice nurses from eight primary care practices in two provinces in the north of the Netherlands, Groningen and Drenthe (total population about 1.1 million people), participated in the pilot IPE
program. A mixed methods design including quantitative and qualitative methods was used to evaluate the IPE program.
Results: During the program, tasks and responsibilities, in particular those related to the care plan, shifted from GP to practice nurse. The participants’ attitude toward elderly (care) changed and the triage instrument, the practical
tool for prioritising preferences of the elderly and discussing their medication use, was considered to have an added value to the development of the care plan.
Conclusions: The results of this pilot study show that an interprofessional education program for professionals with different educational backgrounds (GPs and practice nurses) is feasible and has an added value to the redefining of
tasks and responsibilities among GPs and practice nurses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • health care
  • nursing education


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