Quality in Primary Care Open Access

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Improving services for back pain: putting the patient at the centre of interprofessional education

Eloise CJ Carr, Louise Worswick, Charles Campion-Smith, Dries Hettinga, Peter Wilcock

Introduction Studies exploring the role of patients in interprofessional education (IPE) are found primarily in undergraduate programmes with few reporting on the postgraduate (continuing professional development) setting. This paper describes an interprofessional quality improvement project around the management of back pain in a primary care setting where patients were part of the practice team. Methods Patients participated in eight half-day IPE workshops delivered to nine general practice teams in the UK. Educational content included knowledge about quality improvement and evidencebased back pain knowledge, with teamwork, experiential and didactic learning approaches. On-site practice support from a quality improvement facilitator occurred between the workshops to strengthen practice-based learning. Forty-four practice staff and 11 patients attended the workshops and the facilitated project meetings. Evaluation occurred through focus groups with practice teams (including patients) both before and after the workshops. These were recorded, transcribed and analysed by coding and the inductive development of themes. Results The context of managing back pain was particularly challenging. Focus group participants indicated that patient involvement was highly valued as it gave practitioners a greater understanding of the effects of back pain on their lives whilst permitting patients to hear the experiences of others and to understand their own world better. Listening was important to patients’ experiences of healthcare and practitioners’ experiences of the workshops. Learning together emerged as particularly important and finally the challenge of finding time to learn together infiltrated the entire endeavour and was a prominent concern. Discussion Patients sharing their experience of back pain appeared to be a particularly pivotal point in the learning for practice teams. Meaningful engagement with users in IPE was highly valued and provided a catalyst for behavioural change, where professionals relinquished an unhelpful medicalmodel in favour of an integrative biopsychosocial one.

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