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Evaluation

In this section, we think about the final part of the ‘plan – do – reflect – review’ cycle, that is ‘evaluation’. How do we know that IPE works? And how can we measure its effectiveness?

When we think about evaluation generally, the first point is to return to what we set out to do originally, what were our learning outcomes, broad curriculum aims or goals? This type of evaluation considers how well a course or learning intervention ‘does what it says on the tin’. One issue for IPE is that although the activities may be carried out interprofessionally, there may not be an explicit articulation of or even agreement on IPE goals, aims or learning outcomes. And we cannot evaluate what isn’t stated. This raises the question of how to embed IPE into course design and the fabric of a written, formal and stated curriculum when it is often sidelined into the informal and even the hidden curriculum.

One of the most widely used objective measures of interprofessional education has been the RIPLS (Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale) questionnaire (Parsell and Bligh, 1999). This scale (which has since been modified) and others provide a useful starting point for measuring the learning and benefits of IPE initiatives.  

Whilst we might ask learners whether they have found the process enjoyable or useful, it is more meaningful to concentrate on changes in practice. Higher level evaluations consider the impact of learning on the learners’ experience, or more widely on service. The drivers for introducing IPL into the curriculum include improving collaboration and teamworking in practice, improving interprofessional communications and understanding, and ultimately improving patient care. So evaluation here would be looking at more long-term implications and impact of IPE. Of course, the further the learning intervention is from the changes seen (in time, geography or professional development), the harder it is to attribute the change to a specific learning intervention or approach. This is one of the reasons why the WHO Framework (2010) concluded that it was time to stop questioning the evidence behind IPE and its contribution towards collaborative practice and actually focus on implementing IPE in university and workplace-based health professions education and training. 


The CAIPE IPE outcomes as they might be applied at programme level (CAIPE, 2011 http://caipe.org.uk/about-us/the-definition-and-principles-of-interprofessional-education/) are set out below. These help provide a framework within which IPE activities can be evaluated, although some of the impact is hard to attribute directly to IPE activities alone.

Interprofessional Education

Outcomes

 

Engenders interprofessional capability 

Devising outcome-led learning delivering collaborative capabilities                     

Enhances practice within each profession

Enabling each profession to improve its practice to complement that of others     

Informs joint action to improve services and instigate change

Applying critical analysis to collaborative practice

Improves outcomes for individuals, families and communities

Responding more fully to their needs 

Disseminates its experience

Contributing to the advancement and mutual understanding in interprofessional learning in response to enquiries, at conferences and via the professional and interprofessional literature  

Subjects developments to systematic evaluation and research

Collecting data systematically to test against the requirements and expectations of stakeholders, funding, validating and regulatory bodies and to contribute to the evidence base  

 

 

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