In 2001, the ADA stated, “A formal dialogue among all health care professions should be established to develop a plan for greater cooperation and integration of knowledge in medical and dental predoctoral education, hospital settings, continuing education programs, and research facilities” (ADA, 2001). The importance of interaction between dentists and other health care professionals is a not new finding. In 1917, Sidney J. Rauh, Chairman of the Oral Hygiene Committee of the Ohio State Dental Society, noted,
It has been found imperative that physicians and surgeons possess at least a theoretical knowledge of disease-breeding conditions met with in the teeth and jaws, but it is even more important for the dentist to appreciate the close relationship between his profession and that of the physician, surgeon, bacteriologist, chemist, and public health official. (Rauh, 1917)
Still, health care professionals are typically trained separately by discipline. As a result, professionals may gain little understanding of or appreciation for the expertise of other professionals or the skills needed to effectively participate on a team, including how and when to refer patients to each other and how to best communicate with each other. The value of interprofessional care, especially to care for patients with complex care needs, and the importance of interprofessional education and training have been increasingly acknowledged in recent years (Baum and Axtell, 2005; Blue et al., 2010; Buelow et al., 2008; Dodds et al., 2010; Dyer, 2003; Fulmer et al., 2005; Hall and Weaver, 2001; Howe and Sherman, 2006; Lerner et al., 2009; Misra et al., 2009; O’Leary et al., 2010; Wilder et al., 2008; Williams et al., 2006). In particular, evidence is growing that interprofessional care leads to better care coordination, communication, and, ultimately, better patient outcomes, improved satisfaction, and cost savings (Hammick et al., 2007; HHS, 2010; McKinnon and Jorgenson, 2009; Reeves et al., 2008, 2010; Snyder et al., 2010). The AAP policy statement on the role of pediatricians in prevention calls for collaboration between primary care pediatricians and local dentists in order to establish a dental home (AAP, 2008). The newly formed Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has several projects looking at the effectiveness of team care (Carey, 2010). (See Chapter 4 for more on the center.) While more professionals are gaining experience in interprofessional training, little evidence exists to determine which methods are best for imparting the knowledge and skills necessary to work as a team member, how such training affects patterns of practice, or how it affects patient outcomes (Cooper et al., 2001; Hall and Weaver, 2001; Remington et al., 2006; Thistlethwaite and Moran, 2010).