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Methods and Effectiveness of Communication Between Hospital Allied Health and Primary Care Practitioners: A Systematic Narrative Review

Authors Sheehan J, Laver K, Bhopti A, Rahja M, Usherwood T, Clemson L, Lannin NA

Received 9 December 2020

Accepted for publication 14 January 2021

Published 22 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 493—511

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S295549

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Jacinta Sheehan,1 Kate Laver,2 Anoo Bhopti,1 Miia Rahja,2 Tim Usherwood,3,4 Lindy Clemson,5 Natasha A Lannin1,6,7

1Department of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Social Policy, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia; 2Department of Rehabilitation, Aged and Extended Care, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia; 3Westmead Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 4The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia; 5School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; 6Department of Neurosciences, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; 7Alfred Health (Allied Health), Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence: Natasha A Lannin
Department of Neurosciences, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Level 6, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC, 3004, Australia
Tel +61 3 9903 0304
Email natasha.lannin@monash.edu

Background: There is a compelling rationale that effective communication between hospital allied health and primary care practitioners may improve the quality and continuity of patient care. It is not known which methods of communication to use, nor how effectively they facilitate the transition of care when a patient is discharged home from hospital. Our systematic review aims to investigate the methods and effectiveness of communication between hospital allied health and primary care practitioners.
Methods: Systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies with narrative synthesis. Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycInfo and Proquest Nursing and Allied Health Sources were searched from January 2003 until January 2020 for studies that examined hospital-based allied health professionals communicating with community-based primary care practitioners. Risk of bias in the different study designs was appraised using recognized tools and a content analysis conducted of the methodologies used.
Results: From the located 12,281 papers (duplicates removed), 24 studies met the inclusion criteria with hospital allied health communicating in some form with primary care practitioners. While none of the included studies specifically investigated the methods or effectiveness of communication between hospital allied health and primary care practitioners, 12 of the 24 studies described processes that addressed components of their discharge communication. Four enablers to effective communication between hospital allied health and primary care practitioners were identified: multidisciplinary care plans, patient and caregiver involvement, health information technology and a designated person for follow up/care management.
Conclusion: There is currently no “gold standard” method or measure of communication between hospital allied health and primary care practitioners. There is an urgent need to develop and evaluate multidisciplinary communication with enhanced information technologies to improve collaboration across care settings and facilitate the continuity of integrated people-centered care.

Keywords: multidisciplinary, collaboration, discharge plan, continuity of care

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