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Improving Interprofessional Communication Confidence Among Physical Therapy and Nurse Practitioner Students

Cooper, Denise DNP, RN, ANP-BC; Keiser, Megan RN, DNP, CNRN, SCRN, ACNS-BC, NP-C; Berg, Karen PT, DPT, OCS; Sherman, Erica PT, DPT, MBA

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: September 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 177–184
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000092

Introduction. Educators identified a deficiency in interprofessional communication education in a midwestern university's Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. While several professional organizations stress the importance of interprofessional communication, few studies have focused on such communication between DPT and DNP students. The purpose of this study was to assess DNP and DPT students' knowledge and perception of confidence in interprofessional communication after a simulation-based learning activity conducted via telephone consultation. During the activity, students used the Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) method with a clinical case study.

Methods. The study used a nonrandom sample of 52 first-year DPT and 19 second-year DNP students. Participants completed a questionnaire prior to an educational intervention consisting of SBAR and interprofessional education (IPE) modules. The activity was conducted using an online audio conferencing tool. Students then completed a postintervention questionnaire and reflective questions.

Results. Data analysis (descriptive statistics, analysis of variance with change scores, and qualitative data analysis) showed that DPT students had significantly higher changes in SBAR combined knowledge and attitude scores compared to DNP students after simulation activity.

Discussion and Conclusion. Introducing interprofessional communication such as SBAR approach in DPT and DNP curricula using realistic, simulation-based learning activities with clinical case studies may help students improve their confidence in interprofessional communication.

Denise Cooper University of Michigan-Flint School of Nursing, 303 East Kearsley St., WSW 2172, Flint, MI 48502 ( Please address all correspondence to Denise Cooper.

Megan Keiser University of Michigan, Flint.

Karen Berg University of Michigan, Flint.

Erica Sherman University of Michigan, Flint.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received January 08, 2018

Accepted December 04, 2018

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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