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Facilitators and Challenges to Conducting Interdisciplinary Research

Corbett, Cynthia F. PhD*; Costa, Linda L. PhD; Balas, Michele C. PhD; Burke, William J. MD§; Feroli, E. Robert PharmD; Daratha, Kenn B. PhD*

doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e31827dc3c9
Original Articles

Background: Complex, interconnected issues challenge the United States health care system and the patients and families it serves. System fragmentation, limited resources, rigid disciplinary boundaries, institutional culture, ineffective communication, and uncertainty surrounding health policy legislation are contributing to suboptimal care delivery and patient outcomes.

Methods: These problems are too complex to be solved by a single discipline. Interdisciplinary research affords the opportunity to examine and solve some of these problems from a more integrative perspective using innovative and rigorous methodological designs.

Results: In this paper, we explore lessons learned from exemplars funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative.

Discussion: The discussion is framed using an adaptation of the Interdisciplinary Research Model to evaluate improvements in individual health outcomes, health systems, and health policy. Barriers and facilitators to designing, conducting, and translating interdisciplinary research are discussed. Implications for health system and policy changes, including the need to provide funding mechanisms to implement interdisciplinary processes in both research and clinical practice, are provided.

*Washington State University College of Nursing, Spokane, WA

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD

College of Nursing

§College of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE

Supported partially by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Cynthia F. Corbett, PhD, Washington State University College of Nursing, P.O. Box 1495, Spokane, WA 99210-1495. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.