Facilitators and Challenges to Conducting Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary research teams create synergies to solve problems and improve health care.

The problems and challenges of the U.S. health care systems and the patients and families it serves are too complex to be solved by any single disciple. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) funds interdisciplinary research teams to improve the safety and cost-effectiveness of health care.

These authors describe three exemplars of interdisciplinary research:

  1. A prospective study to improve medication reconciliation during hospitalization to reduce adverse drug events. The multidisciplinary team included pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and an economist. Nurses discussed medication discrepancies with unit teams. The study teams evaluated, rated, and resolved discrepancies.
  2. A randomized trial to improve home care nurses’ abilities to reduce 30-day acute care utilization by reducing medication problems. Research team members included nursing leaders, nurse interventionists, pharmacists, a computer scientist, a biostatistician, a pharmacoeconomist, and a lawyer. Study participants had 48 percent fewer hospital charges within 30 days compared to the control group.
  3. A study to prevent or mitigate intensive care unit-acquired delirium by implementing an intervention “bundle” called ABCD (Awakening and Breathing Coordination, Delirium). The research team involved nursing and geriatric psychiatry, and experts representing biostatistics, qualitative methodology, program evaluation, quality/outcomes measurement, critical care, medicine/surgery, pharmacy, and respiratory and physical therapy.

“Based on the findings of the INQRI study exemplars,” they write, “evidence-based interprofessional protocols are anticipated to improve care quality without increasing overall health care costs.